Climate change and agriculture driving record levels of deforestation, WWF report finds

Climate change and agriculture are fueling record levels of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, with fires in the area 33% higher over that last 12 months than the previous year.  New analysis from WWF and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) confirms that deforestation has steadily increased in the Brazilian Amazon.

The report notes that deforestation alerts from August 2019 to July 2020 were 33% higher than in the same period the previous year. The number of fire alerts across the globe is also increasing – up 13% compared to last year. Humans are responsible for at least 75% of all wildfires, the report highlights.  WWF notes that hotter and drier weather driven by the climate crisis and deforestation caused by land conversion for agriculture are the main drivers of the increase.

The report notes that fires in the Brazilian Amazon for this year are more than 52% higher than the ten-year average and 24% higher than that for the past three years. As such, WWF is calling for the banning of deforestation in the Amazon for the next five years.  A lack of policy support or ambitious action from corporates involved in agriculture has led to an area of tree cover the size of the UK being lost globally each year between 2014 and 2018, a report from Climate Focus has concluded.

The report tracks progress around the New York Declaration of Forests. Ratified in 2014 by a coalition of businesses, governmental organisations, NGOs and indigenous peoples’ groups, the Declaration committed to halving tropical deforestation by 2020 and ending it by 2030, as well as restoring 150 million hectares of degraded habitat by 2020, rising to 350 million by 2030. According to the report, there is “little evidence” that signatories to the declaration have acted in line with its commitment, meaning that achieving the 2020 goals is now “likely impossible”. Businesses to have signed the Declaration include the likes of Mars and McDonalds.



Author: Tuula Pohjola