43 million hectares of forests were lost between 2004 and 2017, i.e. nearly 80% of the surface area of metropolitan France, on 24 "deforestation fronts", hot spots where global deforestation has been concentrated in recent years. It is on this alarming observation that the latest WWF study opens, highlighting in particular the responsibility of the expansion of agricultural land in the deforestation dynamic.
Aerial shot of Acre State showing forest fire. Amazonia, Brazil. Crédit Mark Edwards/WWF
In this study, WWF identified the 24 most severe deforestation fronts in the tropics and subtropics. Some of them are already known and have been active for several years, such as in Cerrado, the Congo Basin or the Mekong Basin, and further analysis reveals others. In total, 9 of the 24 deforestation fronts are in Latin America, a region that is experiencing a particularly dramatic decline in wildlife populations as illustrated by the recent Living Planet Report; 8 are in Africa and 7 in Asia-PacificSource WWF 2021
Commercial agriculture is the main cause of deforestation worldwide as many forest areas are cleared to create space for livestock and crops. Other drivers of deforestation such as mining, food agriculture, infrastructure, or land speculation are also on the rise.
Source WWF 2021
The results of the report emphasize that solutions deployed to combat deforestation must be adapted to the local context and are most effective when combined. It highlights the responsibility of governments and companies in accelerating deforestation.
WWF is calling for several urgent actions, including :
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