Tropical forests store over 25% of the world’s carbon, are home to over 50% of terrestrial land species and yet take up just 3% of the earth’s surface.
Rainforests’ benefit to humans is far greater than their scale would indicate. Over 60% of anti-cancer drugs are sourced via plants from rainforests.
Unfortunately, forests are being lost at an astonishing rate – due to fires and logging.
FORESTS/ LOSS, DESTRUCTION AND PROTECTION
Forests are being lost at a staggering rate. 790,000 hectares were lost in the Amazon in just one year.
Rondônia, one of the worst-hit regions, lost 2.9 million hectares of tree cover from 2000 and 2012, according to Global Forest Watch.
These satellite images show how Rondônia, in the Brazilan Amazon. has changed due to deforestation in this time.
Images are from NASA.
FIRES/ NATURAL | MANMADE
Fires present a terrible risk to forests – natural and man-made.
Some of these fires are being attributed to climates change and the human activity – e.g logging in Australia was predicted to produce hotter summers and higher risks of fires by the Australian government in 2016.
Fires in the Amazon occur not just due to the indirect actions of humans, but by farmers and landowners deliberately burning down forests. In August 2019 there were over 30,000 fires.
Sumatran orangutan, inset, is listed as a Critically Endangered – with just 7,500 left. In the early 1900s, there were nearly 230,000 orangutans.
Their demise has been largely due to deforestation.
Jaguars, which live in the rainforests forests are at risk as their habit is lost. In the 1960s around 18,000 Jaguars were killed every year, for their fur. There are now there are just 15,000 left in the wild.
While Jaguars are still hunted they are also at risk from their habitat being lost and being killed in the forest fires – which move too quickly to escape from.