Menu

Tropical Forests Lost 40 Football Fields of Tree Cover Per Minute in 2017

New University of Maryland data published by Global Forest Watch (GFW) Wednesday revealed 2017 as the second-worst year on record for tropical tree cover loss, a GFW blog announced.

Tropical Forests

Tropical tree cover decreased by an area the size of Bangladesh—a total of 39 million acres. That amounts to 40 football fields worth of trees cut every minute of last year in a devastating blow to biodiversity and the global climate.

Despite conservation efforts, 2017 was only slightly less devastating for tropical rainforests than 2016, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI), which runs GFW.

“This is truly an urgent issue that should be getting more attention,” WRI senior fellow Frances Seymour told The Guardian. “We are trying to put out a house fire with a teaspoon.”

Part of the loss is due to a nasty climate change feedback loop. Forests are an important carbon sink, and deforestation contributes as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as the U.S., according the The Guardian. This drives global warming that makes wildfires and storms more common and severe, partly contributing to more tree cover loss. For example, 2017’s devastating hurricanes cost the island of Dominica 32 percent of its tree cover and Puerto Rico 10 percent, according to GFW.

But most of last year’s loss was more directly human caused.

“The main reason tropical forests are disappearing is not a mystery—vast areas continue to be cleared for soy, beef, palm oil, timber, and other globally traded commodities,” Seymour told The Guardian.

READ MORE AT EcoWatch.com