Deforestation Report

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    Guide Author

    James Longley

    Managing Director

    min read
    Last Updated March 6, 2023
    Deforestation Report

    It is no surprise that global warming is becoming more and more prominent in today’s society. Among the biggest contributors to climate change is deforestation, affecting around 10 million hectares of land every year.

    From businesses mass producing their goods to a growing demand for food, there are many factors responsible for deforestation. As a company that provides comparisons in business energy supply, we want to be able to recommend the best services to you, and we think that sustainability is one of the most important elements.

    As a result of this, we have scoured the internet for everything deforestation-related and put together a report that reveals which countries are currently responsible for the highest deforestation rates and the impact of forestry loss on CO2 emissions.

    Totalling 1,695,700 hectares, Brazil has higher deforestation rates than any other country

    Brazil has the highest deforestation rates

    To kick off this deforestation report, we have revealed which countries are currently responsible for the highest levels of deforestation – here’s what we found.

    1. Brazil, South America – 1,695,700 hectares of deforestation
    With an average deforestation rate of 1,695,700 hectares between 2015-2020, Brazil has lost more forestry than any other country. One of the main contributors to Brazil’s high level of deforestation is climate change, as changes in rainfall and temperature can affect the growth of forestry.

    2. India, Asia – 668,400 hectares of deforestation
    The country with the second highest levels of deforestation is India which has lost 668,400 hectares of forestry over recent years. As the country with the second largest population in the world, India has had to compensate for the increase in residents – this has come at a cost in the way of deforestation.

    3. Indonesia, Asia – 650,000 hectares of deforestation
    Indonesia completes the top three list of countries with the highest deforestation rates, totalling around 650,000 hectares of forestry loss between 2015-2020. Indonesia is recognised as one of the world’s biggest palm oil producers. Palm oil has so many uses that you might not even be aware of, but one thing that is widely known is the detrimental impact that palm oil production has on deforestation.

    With a difference of 284,400 hectares in forestry loss between 1990 and 2020, India has seen the biggest increase in deforestation

    India has seen the biggest increase in deforestation

    Despite global campaigning to raise awareness about deforestation, some countries are still yet to take action. Below is a list of the countries which have shown the biggest increase in deforestation levels between 1990-2020.

    1. India, Asia – Deforestation increase of 284,400 hectares

    Making its second appearance in this deforestation report, with a difference of 284,400 hectares, is India. Despite their increased levels of deforestation, this country is committed to restoring its forests, with plans to re-establish over 20 million hectares of land by 2030!

    2. Zambia, Africa – Deforestation increase of 153,460 hectares

    The African country of Zambia is next on this list, as it has the second biggest increase in deforestation when looking at the difference between the average figures from 1990-2000 and 2015-2020. Between this time frame, Zambia has gone from a deforestation rate of 36,250 hectares to a much higher 189,710 hectares.

    3. Tanzania, Africa – Deforestation increase of 74,000 hectares

    With an increase in deforestation of 74,000 hectares, Tanzania completes this top three list. Tanzania has recently hit the headlines as it has been revealed that a lot of its forestry is being chopped down to cater for the charcoal industry; it is likely that this is one of the reasons for its high position in this ranking.

    Brazil has reduced their deforestation levels by 2,559,100 hectares since 1990 - more than any other country

    Brazil has reduced their deforestation levels

    As well as looking at the areas that are having the most significant impact on deforestation, we also wanted to highlight the countries that are doing their bit for the environment.

    1. Brazil, South America – Deforestation reduction of 2,559,100 hectares

    Making its second appearance in this report is the South American country of Brazil. Despite featuring earlier in this report as the country with the highest deforestation rate, it is clear that Brazil is being proactive in trying to reduce these figures. Masses of funding have been provided to help protect the Amazonian rainforest as well as restore those areas affected by deforestation.

    2. Indonesia, Asia – Deforestation reduction of 1,876,000 hectares

    In a similar fashion to Brazil, Indonesia has also featured previously in this report. Between 1990-2000, this country had an average of 2,526,000 hectares of deforestation per year but this figure has decreased significantly to around 650,000 hectares. A reduction of this size is very encouraging for the future of Indonesian forestry and we hope that this level of protection continues in the future!

    3. Mexico, North America – Deforestation reduction of 519,990 hectares

    Last but by no means least, the country completing this top three is Mexico. As well as having the third most significant reduction in deforestation globally, Mexico also has the smallest current deforestation level of all the countries in this top three – with an average of 165,820 hectares per year between 2015-2020!

    With 2,105,753 hectares of forestry loss, cattle is the agricultural product most responsible for deforestation

    Cattle is the agricultural product most responsible for deforestation

    Agriculture is a fundamental aspect of our survival, with food and materials playing an important role in our lives. Unfortunately, our need for these necessities can come at a cost, and this is often in the form of deforestation.

    1. Cattle – Responsible for 2,105,753 hectares of annual deforestation

    Even though vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are increasing in popularity, the majority of the population today are meat eaters – but meat doesn’t grow on trees! Vast numbers of cattle are reared across the world in order to sustain this lifestyle and this has resulted in 2,105,753 hectares of annual deforestation.

    2. Oilseeds – Responsible for 950,609 hectares of annual deforestation

    The second biggest contributor to deforestation are oilseeds which are responsible for 950,609 hectares of forestry loss. As mentioned earlier in this report, palm oil has been a big driver of deforestation for many years, but that isn’t the only oil-based product responsible for forestry loss. Soybeans provide us with lots of nutrients and health benefits, but many hectares of grassland and forests have been destroyed to make room for the yielding of this crop.

     3. Forestry logging – Responsible for 678,744 hectares of annual deforestation

    The third and final agricultural product on this list, and the only non-food product, is forestry logging. While some forms of deforestation occur naturally as a result of temperature change or rainfall, logging is the deliberate cutting down of trees which is carried out in order to obtain wood and timber. To combat the long-term effects of forestry logging, many areas have tree-planting initiatives to make up for the 678,744 hectares of damage that has been caused to forests.

    Consequences of deforestation on CO2 emissions

    As well as destroying habitats and deteriorating soil, deforestation is also a big contributor towards global warming. When forests are cut down, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – a greenhouse gas that contributes largely to climate change.

    The effects of climate change can include hotter temperatures and extended periods of drought. Although many of us like to have warm summers, forestry is not suited to these conditions and this can cause trees to die, leading to a vicious cycle of environmental destruction.

    Impact of CO2 on businesses

    From the information above, it is not surprising that climate change is a prominent issue on today’s planet. In one way or another, businesses are one of the biggest drivers behind deforestation, which also makes them partly responsible for a large amount of CO2 emissions. Subsequently, more and more businesses are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

    In addition to saving money from the ever-increasing business electricity rates, companies are encouraged to be mindful of their electricity usage due to the impact that it has on the environment. Burning fossil fuels is one way that businesses are able to obtain energy, but this also produces vast amounts of carbon dioxide. To combat this issue, businesses are finding more eco-conscious alternatives.

    Another important way businesses can reduce carbon emissions is by choosing the right suppliers. As revealed earlier in this report, many countries are taking steps to limit their levels of deforestation, but others are lacking when it comes to sustainability efforts. If you have a supplier who isn’t taking any steps towards sustainability, this can have harmful effects on the environment and negatively impact your business’s reputation.

    Methodology

    We used Our World In Data to find the net change in forests between 1990 and 2015 for all countries with data. Any countries that didn’t have data for both time frames were removed, leaving us with a total of 98 countries. To calculate the difference in net forest change we subtracted the 1990-2000 data from the 2015-2020 data.

    We used Our World In Data to find the agricultural products that are contributing most to deforestation.

     

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