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In barely one century, deforestation rates have increased dramatically. From 2021 to 2022 alone, it increased from 5.4 million hectares to 5.8 million hectares. This is equivalent to losing a forest area greater than the size of Croatia in just one year. Stating it differently, it is equal to deforesting 15 soccer fields per minute. Deforestation is a worldwide concern, and many countries have alarmingly high deforestation rates. This article focuses on the countries with the highest deforestation rates in the world and the impact of their forest loss.
Read more: Top 10 causes of deforestation
Honduras has a long history of deforestation, with only 16% of its original forest cover remaining, of which 52% is in a frontier forest state. This is a significant decline from 1990, when forests covered 50% of the country. Unfortunately, Honduras has seen a 37% decline in forest cover between 1990 and 2005. The country's main drivers of deforestation are illegal logging, agriculture, and land development.
Nigeria is another country that has been affected by deforestation, with only 1% of its original forest remaining and 90% of its trees cut down. Since 1990, 36% of Nigeria's trees have been removed. The country's deforestation is mainly caused by illegal logging, agriculture, and infrastructure development.
The Philippines used to be entirely forested, but now only 35% of the trees remain, with 28% in the form of frontier forests. This decline is primarily caused by illegal logging, agriculture, and urban development.
Benin's forest loss is also a significant concern. The country initially had only 16% of its land covered in forest, and 31% of that has been destroyed, leaving only 4% of the original forest remaining, with none in a frontier forest state. Deforestation in Benin is primarily caused by agriculture and illegal logging.
Ghana's forests once covered two-thirds of the country, but now only 10% remains, with none in a frontier forest condition. Ghana has seen a 28% decline in forest cover since 1990, caused by illegal logging, mining, and agriculture.
Indonesia's forest cover has also been severely impacted, with only 65% remaining of the original forest. In the last 20 years, forest cover has significantly declined, and it shows no signs of slowing down. On the island of Borneo, for example, more logs were felled between 1985 and 2000 than in all of Africa and South America combined. The main drivers of deforestation in Indonesia are illegal logging, agriculture, and pulp and paper production.
Only 22% of Nepal's original forest cover remains, with none considered to be a frontier forest. Nepal has seen a 25% decline in forest cover in the past 20 years, primarily caused by illegal logging, urbanisation, and agriculture.
Read more: Nepal's community forestry initiatives
North Korea also has a high deforestation rate, with 61% of its trees cut down. The country has seen a 25% decline in forest cover since 1990, caused by illegal logging and agriculture.
Both Haiti and Ecuador have seen a 22% decline in forest cover since 1990.
Read more: Haiti's deforestation
In Haiti, 99.2% of the total forest area has been cleared, while in Ecuador, 70% of the original trees remain. The main drivers of deforestation in these countries are agriculture, illegal logging, and mining.
Read more: Ecuador's deforestation challenges
Forests play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity, providing ecosystem services, and providing habitats for numerous plant and animal species. In 2020, seven countries reported a decrease in deforestation to the United Nations. These positive developments highlight the potential for change and the effectiveness of collective efforts in combatting deforestation.
Recognising the urgent need for action, more than 100 world leaders attending the COP26 climate summit made a pledge to end deforestation by 2030. This commitment demonstrates a global recognition of the importance of addressing deforestation and its associated challenges. Furthermore, local communities and governments are taking steps to protect forests and enact policies to reduce deforestation.
By working together and implementing sustainable practices, we can mitigate the negative impacts of deforestation and create a brighter future for our planet and all its inhabitants.
Despite the seriousness of deforestation, progress is being made as countries implement sustainable practices, restore forests, and promote reforestation. Advancements in technology allow for better monitoring and targeting of conservation efforts while growing global awareness provides hope for a more sustainable future. By working together and taking action, we can protect our vital ecosystems and create a brighter future for ourselves and future generations.
DGB Group, a project developer of high-quality, large-scale nature-based projects accredited by leading verification standards, is focused on nature conservation and helping biodiversity flourish by planting millions of trees and assisting corporations in achieving net zero. Through our global reforestation and afforestation initiatives, we are restoring ecosystems, revitalising degraded land, and empowering local communities.
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