The tropics lost 11.9 million hectares of tree cover in 2019, according to data from the University of Maryland, released today on Global Forest Watch.
Nearly a third of that loss, 3.8 million hectares, occurred within humid tropical primary forests, areas of mature rainforest that are especially important for biodiversity and carbon storage. That’s the equivalent of losing a football pitch of primary forest every 6 seconds for the entire year.
Primary forest loss was 2.8% higher in 2019 than the year before and has remained stubbornly high for the last two decades despite efforts to halt deforestation. At least 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are associated with 2019 primary forest loss, equivalent to the annual emissions of 400 million cars. Though the rate of primary forest loss was lower in 2019 than record years of 2016 and 2017, it was still the third-highest since the turn of the century.
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