Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Rainforest Deforestation More Than Doubled Under Cover of Coronavirus

Popular
Charlie Rogers / Moment / Getty Images

As the COVID-19 virus was spreading around the world, deforestation in the world's rainforests rose at an alarming rate, the German arm of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a study published on Thursday.


The study, which analyzed satellite data of 18 countries compiled by the University of Maryland, found that deforestation rose by 150% this March compared 2017-2019 average for the same calendar month.

Around 6,500 square kilometers (2,510 square miles) of rainforest were felled in March alone — an area seven times the size of Berlin, the WWF said.

"This indicates that we're dealing with a coronavirus effect on the exploding rates of deforestation," Christoph Heinrich, the head of nature conservation with WWF Germany, said in a statement.

Indonesia Forests Hit Hardest

The forests most heavily hit by deforestation in March were in Indonesia, with more than 1,300 square kilometers lost.

The Democratic Republic of Congo saw the second-largest forest loss with 1,000 square kilometers followed by Brazil with 950 square kilometers.

The Brazilian non-profit research institute Imazon told news agency DPA that deforestation was up in April as well. The institute recorded a loss of 529 square kilometers in the Amazon in April, a rise of 171% compared to last year.

Tied to COVID-19

The WWF says there's ample evidence to suggest the boom in rainforest deforestation is being fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With stay-at-home orders and strict lockdowns in place in countries around the world, authorities haven't been able to patrol nature preserves and indigenous territories as often — a situation that criminal organizations and illegal loggers have been using to their advantage.

The virus has also prompted massive job losses in many countries, leaving many newly-unemployed people increasingly desperate for sources of income.

The WWF noted that the legal timber trade is a substantial source of income for several African countries but is virtually on ice amid various coronavirus shutdowns. The broken supply chains have led to concerns that the forests are losing their value and forest conservation efforts are losing their foothold.

Along the Mekong River in southeast Asia, tourists have disappeared and with them a substantial source of income for local merchants selling forest products like honey, nuts or berries. Many have left the cities and returned to their home villages and are cutting down trees for firewood or a source of income.

The WWF said governments providing financial and technological support to locals could help reduce the rise in deforestation.

Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A replica of a titanosaur. AIZAR RALDES / AFP via Getty Images

New fossils uncovered in Argentina may belong to one of the largest animals to have walked on Earth.

Read More Show Less
Trump's Affordable Clean Energy rule eliminated a provision mandating that utilities move away from coal. VisionsofAmerica /Joe Sohm / Getty Images

A federal court on Tuesday struck down the Trump administration's rollback of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A wild mink in Utah was the first wild animal in the U.S. found with COVID-19. Peter Trimming via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.

Read More Show Less
A mass methane release could begin an irreversible path to full land-ice melt. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

By Peter Giger

The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By John R. Platt

The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.

Read More Show Less