The loss of the Amazon rainforest fueled by the destruction around the roads

Forest destruction around roads has fueled a ‘strong spike’ in tree loss in Brazil’s western Amazon rainforest, with non-fire related losses of more than 25% in some areas, found researchers.

“It’s not necessarily a new phenomenon to see forest loss happening around roads,” said Mikaela Weisse, deputy director of Global Forest Watch at the World Resources Institute, which released the data. “What’s new this year, or intensified, is the rate of that loss.”

Western Brazil was particularly affected, the researchers found in their annual report. New “hotspots” have emerged in the more accessible areas of wooded roads surrounding the roads, which were likely cleared for cattle pasture, they said.

In the Amazon, some roads have been paved for the first time, making it easier to access and cut down the forest, the researchers found. “An interesting question is: do the roads cause deforestation or does the incitement to deforestation create the roads?” Weisse asked.

Brazil accounted for more than 40% of global primary forest loss in the tropics last year, about the same as the previous year. The country tops the global list of lost tropical primary forests, losing about 1.5 million hectares, an area roughly the size of the Bahamas, according to the University of Maryland, which compiled the data.

Chart showing that stopping deforestation could cost-effectively avoid the emission of 3.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year between 2020 and 2050

Ending deforestation has been identified by experts as a crucial step in reducing carbon emissions. Stopping this destructive practice globally could prevent the emission of 3.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. report on the state of the world’s forests.

South America was the region with the greatest potential for carbon savings, according to the FAO. Planting trees on degraded land around the world could also suck up around 1.2 gigatonnes of carbon by 2050, he added.

Globally, the amount of tropical primary forest lost in 2021 has fallen slightly to about 3.75 million hectares, an area larger than the size of Belgium, with the rate remaining stable since 2018, the researchers found. of Maryland.

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Those total losses resulted in 2.5 gigatonnes of carbon pollution, a volume roughly equivalent to India’s annual emissions, they estimated.

Indonesia proved a rare bright spot, where the rate of tree loss fell for the fifth consecutive year, down a quarter from 2020. However, it still ranks fourth in the list of countries in terms of loss of tropical trees.

More than 140 countries, including Brazil, agreed to halt and reverse forest loss at last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow. But deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon hit a 15-year high in the 12 months to July 2021, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research.

This week the The FAO said the expansion of cropland, including palm oil plantations, was the “main driver of deforestation”, responsible for about half of the practices worldwide. Livestock grazing was also a driver, accounting for just over a third.

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