According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 43 million hectares, was lost to deforestation in just over a decade. The Deforestation fronts: Drivers and responses in a changing world report, published on January 13, analysed 24 “deforestation fronts”, or hotspots, across 29 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa and found that more than 43 million hectares of forest were lost in these areas over a 13-year period. The report found that deforestation was taking place at the fastest rates in the following nine locations: the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado, the Bolivian Amazon, Paraguay, Argentina, Madagascar, and Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia.
“While the figures we’re sharing today are alarming, the process of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic may provide an opportunity for the kind of transformative changes that are essential to safeguard our forests – changes that have been identified as necessary for some time,” says Fran Raymond Price, Forest Practice Lead at WWF International. “Forests covered about half of the Earth’s land area 8,000 years ago, but today only 30% of land is forested, with deforestation continuing at shocking rates, particularly in places that are home to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities and endangered wildlife.
“We urgently need to change our relationship with nature. As governments create policies to address the economic and social impacts of the global pandemic, we must address over-consumption and put greater value on health and nature rather than the current overwhelming emphasis on economic growth and financial profits at all costs. This is in humanity’s best interests: the risk of new diseases emerging is higher in tropical forest regions that are experiencing land-use change, like many of the deforestation fronts, so if we don’t tackle deforestation while we can, we could miss out on our chance to help prevent the next pandemic.”