- Carbon/Climate Change
Deforestation: different areas, different causes
Between 1990 and 2016 the world forests lost about 1,320,000 km2. This represents the same area as a country like Peru or Mongolia. It is critical for many reasons (loss of biodiversity, limitation of the earth ability to produce oxygen, water cycle disruption, flood, drought and erosion protections…) and especially to fight climate change. First, trees that are used for energy (heat, cooking…) release CO2 in the atmosphere, and second, if they are not replaced by new trees (case of deforestation), forests’ capability to store CO2 decreases.
Many reasons explain the worldwide deforestation and they depend on local stakes. For instance, wood-energy is an important aspect specifically for African countries whereas large-scale agriculture is one of the primary causes of forest loss in other parts of the world (Amazon, Asia…). In South-America the most important driver is livestock. For example, FAO estimated that between 1970 and 2003, 91% of the Brazilian forest loss was due to its transformation into grazing land. We could also list Hydroelectric power generation, fires and mining as important causes of forest loss.
Unfortunately, official figures from countries may be insincere and it is useful to independently estimate deforestation speed. Towards that, several satellite images providers help to assess actual forest area while year on year comparison could give an estimation of the land use for the area stolen from the forest, with clustering algorithms and AI techniques.