The Guardian has reported about the fact that while pristine rainforests are essential for wildlife and humans, we’re losing them just as fast as ever. Apparently literally millions of hectares of pristine tropical rainforest were lost to deforestation during 2018, as revealed by a new satellite analysis, and it looks like beef, chocolate and palm oil are the major causes.
Rainforests naturally stash masses of CO2 and nurture thousands of species. They are vital if we want to avoid runaway climate change and stop the current ‘sixth mass extinction’ in its tracks. But deforestation is still increasing, and while the losses in 2018 were not as drastic as those we saw in 2016, it was the next worst year since records began in 2002.
It looks like ‘clearcutting’ by loggers hand cattle ranchers have destroyed a load of primary forest and much of it has happened in Brazil, where tribes have been invaded and land grabbed illegally. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia also saw chronic damage through 2018, although the Indonesian government has promised to protect their rainforest better in future. The places with the worst losses of all were Ghana and Ivory Coast, thanks to runaway gold mining and cocoa farming.
As Frances Seymour from the World Resources Institute, part of the Global Forest Watch network that did the research, says, “We are nowhere near winning this battle. It is really tempting to celebrate the second year of decline since peak tree cover loss in 2016 but, if you look back over the last 18 years, it is clear that the overall trend is still upwards. The world’s forests are now in the emergency room – it is death by a thousand cuts.” she said.
While there are plenty of government and corporate efforts being made to fight deforestation, they are clearly not good enough. And the loss of primary forest is thought to be mostly irreversible.