Pandemic accelerates deforestation in tropical countries, WWF warns

Rio de Janeiro,    The destruction of tropical forests has accelerated rapidly during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Thursday.


“Everything indicates that the explosive deforestation has to do with a coronavirus effect,” said Christoph Heinrich from the WWF’s Germany office.

“In many countries, the state has withdrawn from forest protection during the lockdown, which favours illegal logging and the looting of other resources,” he added.


The WWF study, which used satellite data collected by the University of Maryland, found that tropical forests had shrunk by 6,500 square kilometres in March in the 18 countries under investigation. That was up 150 per cent from the previous years, WWF said.


The hardest hit were Indonesia, which lost more than 1,300 square kilometres of tropical forest, the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1,000 square kilometres, and Brazil, 950 square kilometres.


Brazil’s Imazon research institute recorded deforestation on 529 square kilometres of the country’s Amazon rainforest in April, up 171 per cent from the same month last year, Imazon told dpa.


Much of the logging is carried out by intruders who do not own the land and hope to legalize the situation later, researcher Carlos Souza was quoted by news portal G1 as saying.


The international community can help stop the deforestation, stressed the WWF, according to which about a sixth of foodstuffs traded in the European Union contribute to destroying tropical forests.

“The protection of forests is a common task that no one can avoid,” Heinrich said.


Source: Bahrain News Agency