A Football Field-Sized Tropical Forest Vanishes Every 5 Seconds

Tropical forests are vanishing at an alarming rate.


A satellite data study reveals the Earth bid farewell to a carbon-sequestering rainforest expanse exceeding the size of Switzerland or the Netherlands in 2022. Predominantly cleared for cattle rearing and commodity cropping, this equates to a mature tropical tree every five seconds, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).

The WRI’s Global Forest Watch reported that this mass destruction released 2.7 billion metric tons of CO2, mirroring India’s fossil fuel emissions. Brazil leads the pack with 43% of this loss, trailed by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bolivia at 13% and 9%, respectively.

Tropical Forests are Vanishing

Global deforestation of over 41,000 square kilometers in 2022 catapults the year into the fourth most destructive in two decades. This escalation defies the 2021 Glasgow COP26 pledge by world leaders to arrest and revert forest loss by 2030.

Mikaela Weisse, the Global Forest Watch director at WRI, warns that we’re rapidly sacrificing our key defense against climate change. Moreover, we’re jeopardizing biodiversity, and the health and livelihoods of millions reliant on forests.


Focusing on Forests, the Natural Climate Solution

Despite a 50% increase in CO2 emissions since 1960, vegetation and soil have consistently absorbed about 30% of this pollution. Almost half of the 1.6 billion people dependent on forests for sustenance and survival are indigenous communities.

Brazil’s deforestation surged 15% during Jair Bolsonaro’s four-year presidency, as he dismissed environmental regulations, overlooked illegal deforestation, and eroded indigenous rights. Although successor President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledges to end Amazon deforestation by 2030, this remains a steep climb.

Global Implications of Tropical Forests Vanishing

Scientists warn of the Amazon basin’s transition from a tropical forest to savannah due to climate change and deforestation. This shift could drastically alter global weather patterns. The Amazon basin forest safeguards twice the annual global CO2 emissions from all sources.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Bolivia also grapple with rampant deforestation, driven by subsistence farming, small-scale charcoal production in DRC, and cocoa production and gold-mining in Bolivia. A recent surge in oil and gas exploration permits and the impending lift on logging concessions add to the DRC’s challenges.


Global Deforestation Hotspots

Last year, Indonesia (2.3%), Peru (3.9%), Colombia (3.1%), Laos (2.3%), Cameroon (1.9%), Papua New Guinea (1.8%), and Malaysia (1.7%) joined Brazil, DRC, and Bolivia among the top ten tropical forest loss countries. The rest of the world contributed nearly 15% to the 2022 deforestation total.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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