Earth’s intact forests vanishing at accelerating pace: scientists (Update)
Earth’s intact forests shrank by an area larger than Austria every year from 2014 to 2016 at a 20 percent faster rate than during the previous decade, scientists said Wednesday as the UN unveiled an initiative to harness the “untapped potential” of the land sector to fight climate change.
Despite a decades-long effort to halt deforestation, nearly 10 percent of undisturbed forests have been fragmented, degraded or simply chopped down since 2000, according to the analysis of satellite imagery.
Average daily loss over the first 17 years of this century was more than 200 square kilometres (75 square miles).
“Degradation of intact forest represents a global tragedy, as we are systematically destroying a crucial foundation of climate stability,” said Frances Seymour, a senior distinguished fellow at the World Resources Institute (WRI), and a contributor to the research, presented this week at a conference in Oxford.
“Forests are the only safe, natural, proven and affordable infrastructure we have for capturing and storing carbon.”