The Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) analysis found that human activities including logging and land-use changes—often for farming—have destroyed 34% of old-growth tropical rainforests and degraded 30% worldwide.
RFN defined degraded forests as those that are partly destroyed or fully wiped out but replaced by more recent growth. The group's definition for intact forest, considered too strict by some experts, includes only areas that are at least 500 square kilometers or 193 square miles; trees and biodiversity are at greater risk in smaller zones.
Forests act as a two-lane highway in the climate system. Standing forests absorb carbon, but clearing forests releases it into the atmosphere. A forest carbon flux map released in January by organizations including WRI found that between 2001 and 2019, forests emitted an average of 8.1 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually due to deforestation and other disturbances but also absorbed 16 billion metric tonnes per year over the same period. The total lost between just 2002 and 2019 was larger than the area of France. As more rainforest is destroyed, there is more potential for climate change, which in turn makes it more difficult for remaining forests to survive, a terrifying cycle.
The Amazon represents the best hope for preserving what rainforest remains. The world's largest rainforest and its neighbors—the Orinoco and the Andean rainforest—account for 73.5% of tropical forests still intact. While that fact gives hope, the current rate of destruction is frightening.
After South American rainforests, the top deforestation hot zones since 2002 have been Southeast Asian islands where trees have been cleared for palm oil plantations, followed by Central Africa—specifically around the Congo River basin, where forest loss results from agriculture and logging. (source: ecowatch.com)
All of us can help the forests: adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, reduce, reuse, recycle, eat local organic vegan food, choose products that have nothing to do with deforestation, ditch plastics, plant a tree today!
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