The organization “World Wide Fund for Nature” (WWF), reported Wednesday the continued destruction, at an alarming rate, forests, especially tropical, in the sense that 43 million hectares have been wiped out in the world between 2004 and 2017 in 24 “high places of deforestation”, where the losses are the most dramatic.
Commercial agriculture, which clears for crops and raising livestock, is the main cause of this deforestation, especially in South America, according to the NGO. The mining sector, but also infrastructure, especially roads, the forestry industry and subsistence agriculture, especially in Africa, are also important factors identified.
Of these 24 global deforestation “hot spots”, nine are in Latin America, eight in Africa and seven in Asia-Pacific. They alone concentrate more than half (52%) of the world’s tropical deforestation, according to the NGO. The most affected areas are the Brazilian Amazon and the Cerrado region in Brazil, the Bolivian Amazon, Paraguay, Argentina, Madagascar, and the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Brazilian region of Cerrado is, for example, mainly affected by the development of agriculture, with a loss of 3 million hectares of forests between 2004 and 2017 and a disappearance of more than 30% of its total forest area since l year 2000.
In addition, nearly half (45%) of the remaining forests in these 24 areas have suffered degradation or fragmentation, making them more vulnerable, especially to fires such as mega-fires which have multiplied in recent years.
This weakening, says the organization, endangers the vulnerable ecosystems that forests shelter, and therefore the habitats of many species, and promotes contact between wild and human species, and therefore the passage to humans of original diseases. animal diseases (zoonoses), as illustrated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Forests are also very important carbon sinks, making it possible to absorb a large quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity, estimates the report which calls on States and the economic sector to fight against deforestation, in particular by guaranteeing rights of indigenous peoples.
It also calls on populations to avoid products that promote this phenomenon, in particular by changing their diet towards less animal protein.
In this regard, the Director General of WWF, Marco Lambertini, warns against “the mismanagement of the world’s forests promotes carbon emissions, devastates biodiversity, destroys vital ecosystems and affects the livelihood and well-being of local communities. and societies in general ”.