According to the data presented by WRI and Global Forest Watch at the meeting, 2018 was the fourth worst year in terms of deforestation in the rainforest.
The Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) is making an urgent call to put an end to deforestation, which has destroyed forest cover equivalent to the surface area of Nicaragua, in 2018 alone.
"We have to act now and we must do so with much more urgency," TFA Director Justin Adams said at the end of the organization's annual meeting in Bogota, Colombia this week.
Adams stressed that urgent attention is required in order to avoid the "ecological collapse" of the planet. At the association's meeting, which was held in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, some 150 world leaders were brought together to advocate for the acceleration and implementation of measures that may alleviate the deforestation crisis.
"Life is possible because we exist in a very stable climate, but if we continue this war against nature... then the future of our children and grandchildren will not be good," Adams added.
Last year, deforestation devastated 12 million hectares of rainforests, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Global Forest Watch platform. Out of that total, 3.6 million were virgin forests which are fundamental for biodiversity and combating climate change.
According to the data presented by WRI and Global Forest Watch at the meeting, 2018 was the fourth worst year in terms of deforestation in the rainforest, behind 2014, 2016 and 2017. The most affected countries are Brazil, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic from the Congo, Colombia and Bolivia.
We need to take the energy from this room back to our organizations. We need to do better with indigenous communities, we've come so far but have to step up. We need to challenge partners for the Alliance to actually come together in a #ForestPositive way #TFA19COLOMBIA pic.twitter.com/qMP3PFNG3o— Justin Adams (@JustinCMAdams) May 8, 2019
"We are destroying the forests that make life possible" for humans and thousands of other species, Adams pointed out.
According to environmental NGO Greenpeace, deforestation is responsible for about one-fifth of the global emissions of greenhouse gases. This, in turn, intensifies global warming, which causes heat waves, the melting of polar ice caps and the extinction of species.
The TFA director also recalled the warning released Monday by the United Nations regarding the current risk of extinction of one million species, and the twelve-year window in which the world has to avoid the 'point of no return' regarding climate change.
Adams noted the environmental threat in Colombia, the second most biodiverse country in the world behind Brazil. Colombia lost 219,972 hectares of forest and jungles, an area almost equal to the size of Luxembourg, in 2018. The increase has been mainly due to the occupation of these lands for "extensive and illegal cattle ranching, illegal logging, illicit drug trafficking and illegal mining," Adams stated.
The illegal activities often occur in Indigenous territories, which have become increasingly vulnerable to deforestation as a result.
Facing the grim outlook, the TFA official recognized the importance of the "wisdom" of Indigenous peoples in Colombia to mitigate climate change.
"It always amazes me how much knowledge and how much humility they have to teach us if we were willing to listen," Adams reflected.