11.1 Million Hectares Of Tropical Forests Destroyed Last Year: WRI
The area of tropical forest destroyed in 2021 was enough to cover the entire island of Cuba, and sent more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than India does in an entire year from burning fossil fuels, according to an analysis published Thursday, Angela Dewan reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: Some 11.1 million hectares (around 43,000 square miles) of forest was destroyed, predominantly by logging as well as fires.
Some 11.1 million hectares (around 43,000 square miles) of forest was destroyed, predominantly by logging as well as fires, the analysis by the World Resources Institute's (WRI) Global Forest Watch and the University of Maryland found.
Some of those fires were deliberately lit to clear land and many were exacerbated by climate change.
The loss was less severe than in 2020, but deforestation is still occurring at an alarming rate in the tropics. Of the area lost, 3.75 million hectares were primary tropical forest -- sometimes called virgin rainforest -- at the equivalent of 10 soccer fields every minute, WRI reported.
Primary tropical forests in particular are crucial for the ecological balance of the planet, providing oxygen that supports life and as biodiversity hotspots.
They are also rich in stored carbon, and when these forests are logged or burned, they release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
The destruction of primary tropical forest loss alone emitted 2.5 gigatons of CO2 last year, comparable to emissions from fossil fuel burning in India, which is the world's third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter.