Chart: Is it time for an OPEC Rainforest?
The Guardian reports that talks about a potential new “Rainforest OPEC” deal are underway between Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – three countries holding the keys to 52% of the world’s remaining primary rainforests. As world leaders travel to Sharm el-Sheikh this week for the COP27 summit, the issue of the climate crisis is once again in the international headlines.
Tropical forests have been in serious decline over the past decade. In terms of hectares lost, Brazil far exceeds any other country, with a horrifying 1,548,657 hectares of land destroyed in 2021. The Amazon is the largest of its kind on the planet, absorbing nearly two billion tons of CO2 per year. Scientists warn that we are dangerously close to a ‘tipping point’ where much further damage will be irreparable. The election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or Lula, earlier this month at least gave environmentalists hope that the country can get back on track as it has pledged to fight for zero deforestation.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo comes second on the list of the most widespread destruction. Congo’s rainforest – 60% of which resides in the DRC – is colloquially known as the world’s “second lung”. As our graph shows, it is second only to Brazil not only in the scale of its rainforest, but also in the extent of destruction, having lost some 499,059 hectares in 2021 alone.
Last year, the tropics lost a total of 11.1 million hectares of tree cover, according to new data from the University of Maryland and available on Global Forest Watch, with significant losses recorded in Bolivia, Indonesia , Peru, Colombia, Cameroon, Laos, Malaysia. and Cambodia.