Wednesday, October 25, 2017

COTW: Cutting Off Earth's Lungs

One of the most effective ways to avoid catastrophic climate change is to preserve Earth's remaining forests that function as a global carbon dioxide sponge and oxygen generator. Resource rich but less developed countries are cutting their forests down at an alarming rate. These charts show deforestation rates in a few of the major forest areas of the globe. A bright spot is that Brazil is slowly reducing the amount of Amazon forest being cleared, mostly for cattle ranching and subsistence farming. Europe has managed to increase its amount of forest cover as the movement to protect remaining forests gains policy priority.

Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia and Indonesia, continue to loose an alarming amount of forest to logging, legal and illegal, and the palm oil industry.

Brazil has decreased the rate of its deforestation but recently (2013) experienced increase due to changes in its forest code and incentives for forest preservation. The rest of the Amazon Basin is not doing as well as Brazil in protecting rain forest. Peru is noticeably hard hit by palm oil clearances and gold mining [lower chart]. Bolivia, with its adoption of the rights of nature concept, has decreased the rate of forest lost to cattle ranching and mechanized farming:

Finally, the Congo Basin in Africa is loosing forest rapidly as development intensifies. African lowland rain forests face a range of threats from agricultural clearances, logging, poaching and mining: