Brazil reduced forest loss by 36% in 2023 – 04/04/2024 – Environment

Brazil reduced forest loss by 36% in 2023 – 04/04/2024 – Environment


Brazil reduced, in 2023, around 36% of the loss of primary forest compared to 2022. The country thus reached the lowest level of deforestation since 2015, indicates a study released this Thursday (4).

The data was produced by Global Forest Watch, a platform run by the NGO WRI (World Resources Institute), in partnership with the Global Land Analysis and Discovery Laboratory (Glad), at the University of Maryland.

Mikaela Weisse, director of the Global Forest Watch project, highlights that primary tropical forests represent the most important ecosystems to avoid carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. “They are the most effective tools to combat climate change,” she summarizes.

Primary tropical forests are characterized by a large amount of annual rainfall, high average temperatures, nutrient-poor soil and rich biodiversity. In Brazil, the biggest example is the Amazon rainforest.

Weisse attributes the reduction in deforestation in Brazil in 2023 to the role of the federal government. In this first year of administration, Lula (PT) and his ministries reinforced the fight against environmental crime and recognized new indigenous territories. Despite this, the cerrado and the pantanal (the largest floodplain in the world) suffered drastic losses of vegetation.

“The decline was strongest in the Amazon biome, with 39% less loss of primary forests in 2023 than in the previous year, but, unfortunately, not all Brazilian biomes saw the same trend,” says the director.

“In the cerrado, which is the epicenter of agricultural production in Brazil, there was a 6% increase in tree cover loss between 2022 and 2023, and the pantanal biome also saw a spike in forest loss due to fires last year,” highlights.

On a global scale, Brazil represented 43% of the total loss of tropical forests in 2022, a rate that fell to 30% in 2023.

Another country that stood out in the WRI study for policy changes in forest protection was Colombia, with a 49% reduction in primary tropical forest loss in 2023, under the leadership of President Gustavo Petro.

However, the world remains far from achieving its goals of zero deforestation by 2030, according to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration. The tropics lost 3.7 million hectares of primary forest, an area almost the size of Bhutan, equivalent to ten football fields per minute.

Reductions in Brazil and Colombia were offset by increases in Bolivia, Laos, Nicaragua and other countries. Extraordinary jumps in forest losses have occurred outside the tropics as well, as in the case of Canada, which has seen record fires.

Overall, the tropics lost 9% less primary rainforest in 2023 than the previous year. However, the rate remained stable compared to 2019 and 2021. In the last two decades, the world has lost 3 million to 4 million hectares of tropical forest each year, according to WRI.

The Democratic Republic of Congo alone lost more than 500 thousand hectares of primary tropical forest in 2023. The Congo basin, located in Central Africa, occupying six countries, remains, however, a carbon sink, which means that the forest absorbs more gas than it emits.

For Teodyl Nkuintchua, Congo basin strategy and engagement lead at WRI, although the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s rate grew by just 3% in 2023, the continuous small increase over many years accumulates and raises concern.

“Tropical forests are the backbone of the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities across Africa, and this is especially true in the Congo basin,” says Nkuintchua.

In Bolivia, the loss increased by 27%, reaching a record for the third consecutive year. The country has had the third-largest loss of primary forests among tropical countries, despite having less than half the forest area of ​​the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Indonesia.

Fire-related loss represented 51% of Bolivia’s 2023 total, as record hot weather led to human-caused fires spreading through forests. Agricultural production, especially soy, is also one of the main drivers of deforestation in the Andean country.

Indonesia increased its loss by 27% in 2023, the year of El Niño, although the rate remains historically low compared to the mid-2010s. The weather phenomenon has led to concerns about a new fire season, as in 2015, but the impacts were less severe than initially predicted.

Additionally, Laos and Nicaragua have seen an increase in primary forest loss in recent years, including 2023. The two countries have exceptionally high rates relative to their size, losing 1.9% and 4.2%, respectively, of their forests primaries. The jumps in these countries are largely the result of agricultural expansion.


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