By Nicole Oveisi
Source: Smithsonian Magazine, 2019
Forests play a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change. They act as carbon ‘sinks’ by sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They cover 31% of the Earth’s land surface, with 80% of all land-based species living in them. Forests also play a huge role in providing job security, with the sector contributing about 13.2 million jobs around the world.
However, forests are under threat, and so too are the benefits that come with them. Deforestationand forest degradation are the main threats facing our forests. Global deforestation is mostly attributable to industrial agricultural production and the removal of forests for cattle ranching. According to the World Wildlife Fund, “In 2019, the tropics lost close to 30 soccer fields’ worth of trees every single minute.”
Source: World Resources Institute, 2020
Global Forest Watch is an online platform that provides data and tools to monitor the transformation of forests in real-time. The interactive maps allow you to turn on and off layers that show where forests are changing and how.
For example, the map above depicts carbon dioxide emissions (lower rates are shaded in red while higher rates are shaded in yellow) from tree cover loss in the tropics in 2001. The map below shows the drastic increase in carbon dioxide emissions by 2019.
Go to Global Forest Watch to check out the different tools the online platform provides to better understand our transforming forests around the world and learn how these tools can help mitigate these threats.