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  • An aerial view shows illegal deforestation close to the Amazonia National Park in Brazil May 25, 2012.

    An aerial view shows illegal deforestation close to the Amazonia National Park in Brazil May 25, 2012. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 April 2019

Worldwide, over 12 million hectares — roughly the surface area of Nicaragua — disappeared during 2018, the WRI said.

Over 12 million hectares — roughly the surface area of Nicaragua — disappeared during 2018, the World Resources Institute (WRI) stated this week, adding that 3.64 million hectares were occupied by virgin forests, fundamental for climate and biodiversity.

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According to the report, urbanization, commodity-driven deforestation, wildfires, and shifting agriculture are the primary factors behind the dramatic deforestation, the Global Forest Watch said.

Among the top five countries are Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Colombia, and Bolivia. However, Brazil has surpassed them all, suffering the largest blow to its ecosystem with a loss of 1,347,132 hectares or an increase of 54 percent deforestation from last 2018.

“Tropical forests are home to the planet’s biological diversity and the impact on the ground is heartbreaking,” said Frances Seymour, a senior fellow with WRI.

“For every area of forest loss, there’s likely a species that is one step closer to extinction; a family that has lost access to an important area of their income from hunting, gathering and fishing; and a community downstream that has less access to clean water and is more exposed to flood and landslides,” Seymore said.

World Resources Institute

In addition to threatening wildlife habitats, the lack of natural shading causes an over all increase in temperatures.

A study conducted by Brazil’s State University in Rio de Janeiro stated that by 2050, Brazil’s local temperature could increase by 1.45 degrees Celsius.

Using data from 2000 to 2010 on global changes in forest cover, the researchers developed a new model to quantify how those changes affect land surface temperatures.

With this model. the authors applied a time projection to predict local temperature change in Brazil starting from 2010 to 2050. Assuming the current rate of illegal deforestation is maintained, this prognosticated an annual land surface temperature rise of up to 1.45 degrees Celsius.

However, if no further illegal deforestation occurred, the temperature rise could be far more limited, affirmed the report. As they found that deforestation and forestation generally appeared to have opposite effects of similar magnitude. In tropical and temperate regions, deforestation led to warming, while forestation had cooling effects yet the first effect was usually stronger.

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