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Primary forest loss up 12% despite pandemic

Old-growth tropical forest losses rose 12% in 2020 accelerated by commerce and climate-related factors, according to Global Forest Watch.

Logging of West African old growth forests in Gabon
Logging of West African old growth forests in Gabon (AN/David Stanley)

Old-growth tropical forest cover losses rose 12% in 2020 from the previous year accelerated by commercial activities and climate-related droughts, fires and storms, according to new data from Global Forest Watch released on Wednesday.

The loss of 42,000 square kilometers of humid tropical primary forestland cover, an area the size of Denmark, harms carbon storage and biodiversity — the variety of life in all forms. It caused the release of 2.64 gigatons of carbon emissions which is equal to the annual tailpipe emissions from 570 million cars, new data from the Global Forest Watch data platform show.

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