Old growth, or “primary” tropical rainforests, are a crucially important forest ecosystem, containing trees that can be hundreds or even thousands of years old.
They store more carbon than other forests and are irreplaceable when it comes to sustaining biodiversity. Primary rainforests provide habitat for animals ranging from orangutans and mountain gorillas to jaguars and tigers.
Once these forests are cut down, they may never return to their original state.
The data reveals that despite a growing number of zero-deforestation commitments from governments and companies, primary rainforest loss hit record highs in 2016 and 2017 due to fires and remained above historical levels in 2018.
The tropics lost 12 million hectares of tree cover in 2018, the fourth-highest annual loss since record-keeping began in 2001. Of greatest concern is the disappearance of 3.6 million hectares of primary rainforest, an area the size of Belgium.
Hundreds of countries and companies have made commitments to reduce or eliminate deforestation by 2020. As we draw closer to this deadline, some countries are making real progress at reducing loss of primary forests, but many others are trending in the wrong direction.
Given the urgency to prevent runaway climate change and irreversible biodiversity loss, we need to rein in deforestation – before it’s too late.
Reference- WRI website, Clean Technica, Global Forest Watch Website