scorecardEarth lost forests the size of a football field every five seconds in 2022, 10% more than the previous year
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Earth lost forests the size of a football field every five seconds in 2022, 10% more than the previous year

Earth lost forests the size of a football field every five seconds in 2022, 10% more than the previous year
SustainabilitySustainability2 min read
If you look at Earth from space, it will continue to show up as a green and blue blob. It is only when you take a closer look that you see how much of the green is slowly switching to the desolate brown of deforested grassland — a development climate change is licking its fingers on.

Recent analysis of satellite data revealed that Earth lost more than 41,000 square kilometres of rainforests in 2022, an area larger than the entire state of Kerala. This makes last year the fourth most devastating year for primary forests in the past two decades, despite accelerated efforts to protect them.

This amounts to about a football pitch of crucial and mature trees felled or burned every five seconds over the course of the entire year. In addition, this is 10% more area covered than the destruction observed in 2021.

Most of this loss was observed in Brazil's Amazon rainforests (43%), followed by the Republic of Congo (13%) and Bolivia (9%). Much of this tragic deforestation spike can be attributed to Brazil's previous administration severely striking down the country's environmental protection policies.

The repercussions from this lamentable move remain twofold; first being the fact that we lose out on crucial carbon sinks. Vegetation and soil have absorbed about 30% of carbon dioxide pollution since 1960, and tearing down forests means literally tearing down one of our first lines of defence against the ever-inching climate disaster.

In addition, trees are large reservoirs of carbon. When cut down, this carbon is inadvertently released back into the atmosphere. Estimates show that around 90 billion tons of CO2 is stored in the Amazon basin's forests.

More often than not, the lumber goes towards production of charcoal, one of the most straightforward ways of adding more pollution to our atmosphere. The other prevalent use is to clear large areas for cattle-rearing or growing of commodity crops.

If this trend continues, experts worry that we could be accelerating the transition of the Amazon basin from a tropical rainforest to a savannah, which would ripple into weather implications worldwide.

However, there is still some hope in the form of Brazil's new president, who has promised to end deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest by 2030.

"Halting and reversing forest loss is one of the most cost-effective mitigation options available to us today," remarks Frances Seymour from the World Resources Institute.

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