Last year, 4.2 million hectares of native rainforest disappeared, according to figures published Wednesday by Global Forest Watch (GFW) and the University of Maryland. That is an area the size of the Netherlands and an increase of 12 percent compared to a year earlier. A total of 12.2 million hectares of tropical rainforest was lost last year.
GFW says global deforestation continues at an “unrelenting pace.” The felling and burning of the primeval forest released in 2020 as much CO2 as produced by 570 million passenger cars. That is more than seventy times as many cars as there are on the road in the Netherlands.
In Brazil, with 1.7 million hectares, by far the largest area of original rainforest was lost. Deforestation was also significantly higher in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bolivia, although much less virgin forest disappeared there at half a million and 276,900 hectares respectively than in Brazil.
Things are going better in Indonesia and Malaysia, GFW claims. Deforestation in Indonesia fell for the fourth year in a row and remained at 270,000 hectares. In Malaysia, where a fifth of the original rainforest has disappeared in the last 20 years, 73,000 hectares of virgin forest have been cleared.