Wildlife & Biodiversity

Halt deforestation by 2030: Are we on track to meet global pledge?

Brazil was the world’s largest contributor to deforestation in 2021

By Susan Chacko
Published: Thursday 27 October 2022
Forest funding must increase by up to 200 times to meet 2030 goals. Photo: iStock

Global forest loss decreased in 2021, but the crucial climate goal of stopping deforestation by 2030 would still be missed, according to an assessment.

Deforestation rates worldwide declined only modestly in 2021 by 6.3 per cent compared to the 2018-20 baseline, according to the 2022 Forest Declaration Assessment published October 24, 2022.

A 10 per cent annual reduction is needed to be on course to halt deforestation completely by 2030.

Some 145 countries affirmed their commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow (2021).

Brazil was the world’s largest contributor to deforestation in 2021. The country marked a 3 per cent rise in the rate of deforestation in 2021 compared to the baseline 2018-2020.

Bolivia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo underwent deforestation at 6 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.

Although Brazil didn’t show a large increase, its total deforestation rate each year remained high — making it the world’s largest contributor.

Global tree cover increased by 130.9 million hectares over the past two decades. Three-quarters of the global gain was concentrated in 13 countries. The most significant improvements were observed in Russia (28.4 per cent), Canada (13.0 per cent), the United States (10.7 per cent), Brazil (6.2 per cent), and China (5 per cent).

China showed the largest net gain in tree cover — 2.1 million hectares (Mha). India also marked a gain of 0.87 Mha in tree cover.

Globally, 118.6 Mha (approximately 90 per cent) of the total tree cover gain is likely due to natural regeneration and assisted natural regeneration that occurred outside plantations.

It is essential to note that tree cover gain does not cancel out tree loss, the report cautioned. Forest cover gains don’t negate the impacts of forest loss in terms of carbon storage, biodiversity, or ecosystem services. The highest priority efforts should be directed towards safeguarding primary forests from losses in the first place.

The report found that forest finance needs to be on track to meet global goals to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.

“It will cost up to $460 billion per year to protect, restore and enhance forests on a global scale,” the report added.

Currently, domestic and international mitigation finance for forests averages $2.3 billion per year — less than 1 per cent of the required. Forest funding must increase by up to 200 times to meet 2030 goals.

Recently, World Wide Fund for Nature released an analysis of public funding strategies from governments and multilateral donors. It found that few government donors explicitly fund forest landscape restoration, although many prioritise areas such as climate change, biodiversity, rural development and forestry.

Some countries have made progress in reducing deforestation and good governance has been a key to this success. Gabon reduced deforestation by 28 per cent in 2021 compared to 2018-20. The country implemented measures to combat illegal logging and the enforcement of protected areas. 

Indonesia reduced deforestation after implementing the forest moratorium and improved enforcement measures.

In Brazil, the decline in deforestation rates between 2004 and 2012 can be partly attributed to the coordinated implementation of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon. It created protected areas and effective monitoring systems.

Recent years have seen legal interventions in the European Union, Ecuador and India to protect forests.

In 2021, a constitutional court in Ecuador upheld the rights of nature enshrined in the country’s constitution. The court said mining in protected areas violated the constitutional rights of nature and that the government should revoke the mining licenses.

In April 2022, the Madras High Court declared nature as a living being with all rights and duties of a living being.

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