Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Apr 28 (EFE).- The planet lost 3.75 million hectares of pristine rainforests in 2021, an area slightly larger than Taiwan, and Brazil is leading the environmental disaster as the Latin American nation accounted for nearly half of the destruction, a study published Thursday warned.
Around 1.5 million hectares of rainforest was destroyed in the Brazilian Amazon in 2021, an area twice the size of Tokyo, according to a report published by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
The People’s Republic of the Congo, with 500,000 hectares, ranked second in the world in terms of tree cover loss and Bolivia, which broke a national record with nearly 300,000 hectares, ranked third country.
The data was collected using satellite images of forests and was carried out by the WRI in partnership with the University of Maryland.
Brazil has around a third of the world’s remaining tropical forests and has maintained loss rates of over one million hectares a year since 2016, according to images captured by WRI’s Global Forest Watch platform.
Primary humid tropical forests are the ecosystems with the greatest biodiversity on the planet and are especially important because they store large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Losing them is a “dramatic” issue, Fabiola Zerbini, WRI Brazil coordinator, told Efe.
The destruction of tropical forests, which are mostly in the Amazon and take decades to fully recover, could be one of the main factors preventing global efforts of reaching the goal to limit global warming to well below 2, compared to pre-industrial levels, and to achieve sustainable development targets by 2030.
“If we don’t reverse that now, we’re not going to make it,” the expert said.
The Amazon – which stores between 150,000 and 200,000 million tons of CO2 above and below ground – is on the verge of reaching a point of no return, if its destruction is not stopped, she added.
At the last climate summit in Glasgow, several scientists warned that, if the current rates of deforestation and destruction continue, the Amazon could lose 70% of its native vegetation before 2050 and become practically deserted.
According to the report published by the WRI, Indonesia, which came fourth in the global ranking, reported a 25% drop in biodiversity losses for a fifth consecutive year, which is an indication that the government’s efforts and commitment of the private sector are proving effective. EFE