Amazon fires, Global Deforestation and what we are doing about it

The fires in the Amazon have rightfully captured a lot of attention given the global significance of the biome1 . However, it is important to recognise that deforestation is a global crisis. Countries like Cambodia, Malaysia and Paraguay have lost more than 10% of their forests in just six years. Globally, we have lost 9% of forest cover since 2000. There are many reasons for tree cover loss with the primary drivers of permanent deforestation being agriculture and urbanisation (agriculture is a 4,000 times larger contributor than urbanisation). 

Deforestation, like many issues today, is complex and often painted as competing with objectives of economic development and feeding a growing population. 

However, the impact of deforestation on issues like the extinction crisis (with 75% of the terrestrial environment “severely altered” by human actions2 ) and climate change (around 13% of global emissions) makes this a Faustian bargain. Both economic development and food security are ultimately compromised if the causes of the climate and biodiversity crises are not addressed.

1 A biome is a community of plants and animals that have common attributes adapted for the environment they live in.
2 Source: Sustainable Development Goals. UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ (May 2019)