BRAZIL – Forest loss ticked up again last year, following devastating fires in Brazil and elsewhere across the globe along with deforestation for farmland.
The globe lost nearly 12 million hectares of forest in 2019, a nearly 3 percent increase in losses from the year prior, according to a report from the World Resources Institute.
The decline was heaviest in tropical forests, with Brazil leading the globe in tree loss after major fires in the Amazon.
Deforestation for commercial purposes, however, such as timber, farming and mining, outpaced tree loss from the fires.
“The Brazilian Amazon did face unusually high fire counts in August 2019, but many of these occurred on already-deforested areas as farmers prepared land for agriculture and cattle pastures,” the report said.
The damage to the Amazon is especially concerning, as the forest is considered the lungs of the Earth for its oxygen production.
In Australia and Bolivia, wildfires were the main culprit behind forest loss.
Australia’s wildfires burned in several areas of the country, destroying homes and habitats for wildlife.
The report noted that “2019 was easily Australia’s worst year on record, with a six-fold increase in tree cover loss compared to the year before,” though the true impact isn’t reflected in the data, as the fires burned into 2020.
Fires in Bolivia — which brought forest loss 80 percent higher than any other year on record — are suspected to have started when agricultural burns spread out of control.