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Tropical forests lost more than 27 million acres of tree cover in 2021, study shows

Tropical forests lost more than 27 million acres of tree cover in 2021, study shows
Rio Branco in Roraima state, Brazil. A new reports shows tropical forest loss in 2021 was 11.1 million hectares (27.4 million acres). File Photo by zeedoo/Pixabay

April 28 (UPI) -- Despite a declared commitment by 143 countries to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030, a new report shows global forest loss remains "stubbornly high."

According to University of Maryland data, tropical forest loss in 2021 was 11.1 million hectares (27.4 million acres).

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Cambodia had the highest percentage of total forest loss. Brazil had the largest tropical primary forest loss.

The research data said primary forest loss in Brazil has been "persistently high the past several years."

The researchers said the Amazon rainforest is losing resilience and may be closer to a tipping point than previously thought, which would lead to "irreversible transformation of massive areas of the Amazon to a savannah."

The report said loss in tropical primary rainforests is of particular concern since these areas are critical for carbon storage and biodiversity.

In 2021, 3.75 million hectares of primary rainforest were lost. That resulted in 2.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to India's annual fossil fuel emissions, according to the new data.

The international COP26 conference resulted in The Glasgow Climate Pact deal, an agreement with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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To do that, deforestation would have to be halted by the end of the decade.

The Glasgow Leader's Declaration on Forests and Land Use in November 2021 said nations would work collectively to "halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030."

Boreal forests, primarily in Russia, had "unprecedented tree cover loss in 2021," largely driven by fires, according to the University of Maryland data.

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