Science and Tech


Report: 39 Million Acres Of Tropical Tree Coverage Lost In 2017

Humans are to blame for a lot of it.
Posted at 2:34 PM, Jun 27, 2018

The world's tropics lost a lot of tree cover in 2017 — 39 million acres, to be exact, an area roughly the size of Bangladesh.

That makes 2017 the second-worst year on record for tropical tree cover loss, according to a new report released Wednesday by Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute

The report used satellite imagery to track changes in canopy cover across the world. The changes in forest cover was worst in places like Colombia, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Colombia, tree cover loss spiked following the peace treaty between FARC rebels and the country's government. The peace treaty likely opened up more remote areas for development. The report notes that Colombia is actively trying to slow forest destruction.

In Brazil, cover loss started to rise again following cuts to environmental protection oversight. Most of 2017's cover loss comes from fires, especially in the southern Amazon where they were set by people clearing land for pastures or agriculture.

And in the DRC, forest loss reached a record high. Much of that loss was driven by agriculture, logging and charcoal production. 

There's one bright spot outlined in the report. Indonesia saw a significant drop in tree cover loss, and the country's primary forests saw a 60 percent downturn in deforestation last year.