- Recent advances in satellite-based forest monitoring technology have helped conservationists locate where deforestation may be happening. However, limitations in knowing the causes behind canopy loss have hindered efforts to stop it.
- A new study released this week provides a step forward toward this goal, identifying the major drivers of tree cover loss around the world.
- Overall, it finds 27 percent of all forest loss — 50,000 square kilometers per year — is caused by permanent commodity-driven deforestation. In other words, an area of forest a quarter of the size of India was felled to grow commodity crops over 15 years. The next-biggest driver of forest loss worldwide is forestry at 26 percent; wildfire and shifting agriculture amounting to 23 percent and 24 percent, respectively. The study finds less than 1 percent of global forest loss was attributable to urbanization.
- The study’s authors found commodity-driven deforestation remained constant throughout their 15-year study period, which they say indicates corporate zero-deforestation agreements may not be working in many places. They hope their findings will help increase accountability and transparency in global supply chains.
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