Forest Loss Accelerating From Deforestation

Analysis of satellite images reveals that many of the world’s tropical forests are disappearing far more rapidly than previously feared.

Forest researchers from the University of Maryland found that the annual rate of deforestation from 1990 to 2010 in forests from the Amazon to the Philippines was 62 percent higher than during the previous decade.

The greatest increase occurred in the tropical forests of Latin America, where about 5,400 square miles of trees were felled per year from the 1990s to the 2000s.

Earlier NASA research found that deforestation is mainly driven by an increase in urban population, logging and growth of agriculture.

The new study brings into question the reliability of the ground-based Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which has until now been the only source available to estimate deforestation.

It had led researchers to project a 25 percent slowdown in the rate of forest loss.

“The FAO report has been criticized for inconsistency in its survey methods and the definition of what is a forest. Our result is important in that we are providing a satellite-based alternative for the FRA,” said Do-Hyung Kim, lead author of the study, which is expected to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Devastated rainforest and peatlands in Riau, Sumatra.


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