Tropical forest loss increased in 2022, research shows


New research has shown that tropical forest loss accelerated in 2022, in direct contrast to pledges made by governments at COP26 in Glasgow.

At COP26, more than 100 world leaders signed a declaration in which they committed to "halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030".

But the total area of forest loss worldwide in 2022 roughly equated to the size of Switzerland, or the equivalent of some 11 football pitches of forest being lost every minute, according to data gathered by the University of Maryland as part of its Global Forest Watch

Deforestation in Acre, Brazil (Kate Evans / CIFOR).

As the tropical primary rainforests of South America, Africa and South-East Asia absorb huge amounts of greenhouse gases, any loss in these regions is seen as a further blow in combatting the worsening climate and biodiversity crises.

The tropics lost 10% more primary rainforest in 2022 than in 2021, with a staggering 4.1 million ha (some 41,500 sq km) felled or burned worldwide, releasing an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to the annual fossil fuel emissions of India.

The data showed that while primary forest loss increased in the two countries with the most tropical forest, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it rapidly increased in other nations such as Ghana and Bolivia. Meanwhile, Indonesia and Malaysia have managed to keep rates of primary forest loss near record-low levels.

Accounting for 43% of global forest loss, Brazil remains the worst offender by far. An astonishing 1.8 million ha of primary forest loss resulted in the release of 2.5 times the country's annual fossil fuel emissions. Within Brazil, forest loss accelerated in the Western Amazon. The states of Amazonas and Acre saw some of their highest levels of primary forest loss on record in 2022 – the former state has nearly doubled its rate of primary forest loss in only three years.

Read the full report, including detailed country-by-country breakdowns of forest loss in 2022, here.