At least 43 million hectares of tropical rainforest destroyed

Kalakpa Forest Reserve

dpa/GNA – At least 43 million hectares of tropical rainforest have been destroyed since 2004, according to calculations made by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) published on Wednesday.

The calculations are based on satellite images recorded between 2004 and 2018 in 24 regions especially at risk, according to a WWF statement.

The largest destruction happened in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela and Guyana, where a total of 18.2 million hectares were razed – an area equivalent to roughly half the size of Germany.

Other deforestation hotspots were located in Borneo, Paraguay, Argentina, Madagascar and Sumatra. Around half of the rainforests in those areas were also severely fragmented by roads or arable land, making them more susceptible to droughts and wildfires, the WWF said.

The WWF also said that consumers played a part in the deforestation.

“Forest is often destroyed for the production of soya for animal feeding, cocoa and beef to be imported to the EU. Around one sixth of all foodstuffs traded in the EU contribute to deforestation in the tropics,” according to the statement.

“Instead of only pointing a finger to governments and farmers in deforestation hotspots we also have to look at ourselves,” said Susanne Winter, responsible for forest policy at WWF Germany.

She added that rainforests constitute a health reservoir for nature and humanity, as they store carbon and are an important habitat for animal and plant species.

“We urgently need to stop deforestation, otherwise life as we know it will stop,” Winter said.

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