10 football pitches of pristine rainforest lost per minute

10 football pitches of pristine rainforest lost per minute

10 football pitches of pristine rainforest lost per minute

Huge swathes of tropical rainforest were burned or hacked down for cattle and crops last year, led by destruction in Brazil, researchers said Thursday, warning that climate change itself is making it harder to reverse the losses.

Some 11.1 million hectares (27.5 million acres) of tree cover was lost across the tropics in 2021, with 3.75 million hectares of that in old-growth primary forests, according to annual research by Global Forest Watch, the World Resources Institute and the University of Maryland.

“That’s 10 football pitches per minute. And that goes on for a year,” said Rod Taylor, who leads WRI’s Forests Program.

Researchers calculated that the loss of tropical primary forest in 2021 resulted in the release of 2.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to the annual fossil fuel emissions of India.

Over 40 percent of the total tropical primary forest lost in 2021 was in Brazil, where some 1.5 million hectares was cut down or went up in smoke.

That was followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which saw nearly 500,000 hectares disappear, while Bolivia’s forest destruction reached its highest level since records began in 2001 at nearly 300,000 hectares.

While the latest report showed a slight overall reduction in the rate of primary tropical forest loss in 2021, down 11 percent on a year earlier, researchers said rates remain unsustainably high.

Beyond the tropics, the report showed that boreal forests in the northern hemisphere suffered the greatest tree cover loss in two decades.

An unprecedented fire season saw Russia alone lose 6.5 million hectares of forest cover in 2021, the highest on record.

Researchers warned of a potential “feedback loop” where more blazes cause greater carbon dioxide emissions, which in turn helps drive temperatures higher and increases the fire risk.