WWF: COVID-19 could give rise to radical change needed to stop deforestation once and for all

Posted on 13 January 2021
Informal Gold Mining in Guyana
© Pete Oxford
A new international report by WWF reveals that an area twice the size of the UK was lost to deforestation in just over a decade in the tropics and subtropics alone. As loss of nature is seen as one of the main causes for emergence of new viruses, the current COVID-19 crisis should open the door for the kind of international, radical changes to halt deforestation. Safeguarding our forests will help prevent the next pandemic, according to WWF.

The Deforestation fronts: Drivers and responses in a changing world report, published today, analysed 24 “deforestation fronts”, or hotspots, across 29 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa and found that more than 43 million hectares of forest were lost in these areas over a 13-year period. The report found that deforestation was taking place at the fastest rates in the following nine locations: the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado, the Bolivian Amazon, Paraguay, Argentina, Madagascar, and Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Guianas as high forest low deforestation territories in its entirety has maintained low deforestation rates below 0.1%, which is lower compared the 23 Deforestation Fronts presented in the report. Specifically for Guyana, which is partly mentioned in the report, the deforestation rate is 0.053% on average annually. Deforestation and forest degradation however are increasingly threatening the intact natural forest, though the report did not highlight other areas in the Guianas which may show impacts of deforestation and forest degradation. 

Suriname, the most forested country in the world, has the highest percentage of forest area (% of land area). With more than 50% forest cover and a deforestation rate below 0.22% per year, Suriname is till in danger of losing its coveted title should deforestation continue ‘business as usual’. One of the most controversial environmentally – sensitive activities, mining continues to be one of the main drivers of deforestation in Suriname.

WWF-Guianas works on expanding and magnifying responses on deforestation Guyana is known for over the years  with respect to REDD+. Simultaneously additional practices and policies linked to gold mining are adopted, as this has been the leading contributor to deforestation and fragmentation. WWF Guianas is initiating a new mining initiative which will contribute to Guyana’s response for responsible gold mining practices in partnership with private and public sector. Additionally, WWF’s sustainable forest management strategy also contributes to Guyana’s longstanding history of maintaining its rich natural forest cover. Our new strategy will continue to enhance capacities of communities, state agencies and forestry private sector, including monitoring, increase value adding and certification.
Informal Gold Mining in Guyana
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