(1/6) Deforestation: an inventory in 2019

After launching in 2018 a Beekeeping Pilot, Naturevolution start a reforestation project near the villages of Makay: 1 Million trees for the Makay. But we could start this project without first explaining how it fits in the specific context of Makay and a worrying global context. Through 6 items we take stock of the current state and causes of deforestation in the world, in Madagascar and Makay on what governments are doing to fight against on reforestation initiatives around the world Madagascar, and finally on the most impactful actions an individual can take to fight against deforestation. An entire program !

Deforestation hotspots in 2020 (high resolution version)
Source: WWF, report Deforestaton Fronts : drivers and responses in a changing world, 2021.

A disturbing trend

The phenomenon of deforestation caused by the development of human activity is not new. Long before the development of agriculture, Wise man had a considerable impact on forests, but the low population density and mobility of the hunter-gatherer allowed the forests to regenerate to a certain extent.

However, that massive deforestation continues in the 21st century in a context of scarcity of forest area rich in biodiversity, extinction of living crisis and fast global warming is extremely worrying. Considered "out of control" in many countries of the world, the current deforestation would it not the result of our choices in life?

The phenomenon has even worsened in some countries. In Brazil for example, where deforestation had however declined dramatically until 2012Thanks to political will (due in particular to the expansion of protected areas) and the use of satellite imagery, she left with a vengeance.

In the month of June 2019 a significant acceleration of the Amazon deforestation was reported byNational Institute for Space Research of Brazil "Sulawesi, expedition to the heart of the mystery island" in replay on Arte In one month is 920 km2 of rainforest disappeared. End 2019, INPE notes that Deforestation in Brazil has doubled in 2019 compared to 2018, a direct result of the messages of the Brazilian president. A decline does not bode well for biodiversity and indigenous peoples precisely when the European Union has signed a free trade agreement with South American states (Mercosur), a qualified agreement "complete contradiction with our climate ambitions"By Nicolas Hulot.

What are the numbers?

according to the annual report by Global Forest Watch, the world has lost in 2018, 12 million hectares of tropical forests, including 3.64 million primary tropical forest equivalent to Belgium! This is the fourth worst year in terms of deforestation of the rainforest, after 2016, 2017 and 2014 since the first recordings in 2001.

The countries most affected by deforestation are Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - three countries that concentrate nearly 60% of tropical forests of our planet. Some forests have long been spared because of civil wars that lasted several decades, as in Colombia, DRC or Myanmar (Burma), but with the end or slowing these conflicts, these forests are seen as so many new opportunities operating.

Different causes by continent

According to the Report on the Global State Forestry published by FAO in 2016, near 80% of global deforestation is caused by agriculture (30-35% for subsistence agriculture and 45-50% for commercial or industrial agriculture) and 20% by infrastructure construction, mining and urbanization. But the causes of deforestation are radically different from one continent to another.

Map of ecosystems subject to the risk of deforestation in South America

South America
If we look again for Brazil, the causes of deforestation in 2018 were to 65-70% the creation of pasture for livestock (Brazil exports many beef) and 25-30% for agriculture (especially the export of soybeans to China and Europe for their farms). Infrastructure, mining and forestry, and urban expansion account for only a small part of deforestation.

The situation is similar in other countries (Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay, etc.) and does not concern the Amazon basin. Less known, the September 22 and Closed are increasingly affected by deforestation.

The September 22Straddling several countries home the largest dry forest in Latin America and savannah and wetlands. The ClosedLocated mainly in Brazil, is a vast tropical savanna composed of many types of natural habitats - forestée savanna, moist savanna, gallery forests, etc. - and hosts a extremely rich and diverse biodiversity. These two environments less subject to political pressure that Amazon, experiencing unprecedented deforestation especially caused by Europe.

South East Asia
In Indonesia and Malaysia, engine deforestation is palm oil. In the Mekong region (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam), these are the rubber plantations for rubber, used mainly for the manufacture of tires. Other commodities also intended for export join them: for example Java pepper on the island of Sulawesi, or coffee in Vietnam.

Unlike Latin America, a significant part of deforestation in Asia is also due to local agriculture and, to a lesser extent, to infrastructure development, urban expansion and mining. .

Pepper plantation on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The majority of African deforestation is grown by small farmers who produce local subsistence agriculture. This is particularly the case in Madagascar, where deforestation is caused by the clearing of forest for slash and burn (Exhibition “Makay, a refuge in Malagasy land” at the Musée des Confluences) Or for the production of charcoal for cooking.

But this is changing. For ten years, the forests of Central Africa and West Africa are seen as the 'El Dorado' of industrial agriculture, where virgin forests are replaced by plantations to meet demand commodities in the international market. The forests of the Congo, Cameroon and you Gabon are threatened by the expansion of palm oil. In Ivory Coast and Ghana, we deforest even in protected areas to produce cocoa for export.

Bushfire in the Makay massif in Madagascar.

More rarely mentioned, Australia is the only developed country to appear among the 10 hotspots of deforestation, due to a lack of political will and inappropriate laws. The main reason for the destruction of forests there is again the extension of pastures for the production of beef, as well as the development of commercial plantations and clear cutting of forests for the paper industry, including primary forests in Tasmania. Australia is home to an endemic biodiversity that is unique in the world and some forests are there. among the oldest in the world. Deforestation threatens at least 700 Australian animal and plant species, including iconic species like the koala.

What prospects for the future?

The future is bleak ad for large tropical forests and their biodiversity. Subject to numerous local anthropogenic pressures (deforestation for agricultural expansion, degradation by logging, poaching), to which is added that of climate change which increases the risk of fires and requires species to move rapidly (300 meters / year), it could remain the great tropical forests fragments severely degraded at the end of the century.

Facing thegovernment inaction for deforestation, it is urgent to act and how many are. One more you said in this article: How to act against deforestation?

Our Partners

Initial funding to the tune of € 10,000 was obtained from Ermada - Sale of Malagasy handicraftsEnabling the launch of 1 Million trees project for the Makay. Maltem is an ecosystem of specialized consulting companies in the digital transformation and sustainable innovation, and a partner of Naturevolution since 2016.

The entire series of articles

An article written by Gaëtan Deltour and Yann Bigant

Learn more about this project

Reforest the periphery of the New Protected Area of ​​Makay

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