Prelims level : Environment Mains level : GS-III Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
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  • The world lost 12 million hectares of tree cover last year, an area nearly the size of England


  • The world lost 12 million hectares of tropical tree cover in 2018 – the equivalent of 30 football pitches a minute. It was the fourth-highest annual decline since records began in 2001, according to new data from Global Forest Watch, which uses satellite imagery and remote sensing to monitor tree cover losses from Brazil to Ghana

New deforestation hotspots

  • The rate of destruction in 2018 was lower than in the two previous years. It peaked in 2016 when about 17 million hectares of tropical forest were lost partly due to rampant forest fires, according to the WRI. The study highlighted new deforestation hotspots, particularly in Africa where illegal mining, small-scale forest clearing and the expansion of cocoa farms led to an increase in tree loss in countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
  • Indonesia was a rare bright spot, with primary forest loss slowing for two years running, after the government imposed a moratorium on forest-clearing.
  • Indonesia has the world’s third-largest total area of tropical forest and is also the biggest producer of palm oil. Environmentalists blame much of the forest destruction on land clearance for oil palm plantations. Last year, leading philanthropists pledged $459m to rescue shrinking tropical forests that suck heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a Global Climate Action Summit in California. “Deforestation causes more climate pollution than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes combined,” said Glenn Hurowit chief executive of Mighty Earth, a global environmental campaign organisation.
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