The world lost more than an area of forest the size of Wyoming last year as wildfires in Russia set record levels and Brazil’s deforestation of the Amazon River remains high, according to a report released Thursday by the Global Forest Monitoring Project.

Global Forest Watch, supported by the nonprofit World Resources Institute – which drew on forest data collected by the University of Maryland – said in a report that about 250.000 square miles of forest would go missing in 2021.

The loss is considerable because of the enormous amount of carbon dioxide they absorb in forests, which create a buffer against climate change.

The severe scale of forest loss in 2021, near that of 2020, is not the same as the commitment announced by more than 100 leaders at a U.N. climate summit last November to halt deforests by 2030, analysts warn.

The rate is roughly the same as it would in 2020, which, according to its report, which was based on forest data collected by the University of Maryland, had a sharp rise over 2019.

Lower forest cover is caused by human and natural causes, as well as deforestation, forest fires and other damage.

Researchers calculated that the loss of primary tropical rainforests in 2021 would release 2.5 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which equals annual emissions of Indian fossil fuels.

Though the destruction was somewhat less than in 2020, it had carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to what the entire fossil fuel burn in India would require within a year, according to the report.

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Global Forest Watch

Global Forest Watch is an open-source web application to monitor global forests in near real-time. GFW is an initiative of the World Resources Institute , with partners including Google, USAID, (wikipedia)

United Nations

The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization whose purpose is to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, (wikipedia)