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Thursday, October 26, 2023

Global Forests action failing says report with increase in deforestation in 2022 putting at risk 2030 Forests target

In 2022, global gross deforestation reached 6.6 million hectares worldwide and was 21 percent higher than needed to eliminate deforestation by 2030 says a new report..

The loss of primary tropical forests reached 4.1 million hectares and is even further off track—the loss was 33 percent higher than the needed trajectory to halt primary forest loss by the end of the decade.

This backslide puts forest goals even farther out of reach after the small but insufficient progress made in 2021.

Nothing less than a radical transformation of development pathways, finance flows, and governance effectiveness and enforcement is required to shift the world’s trajectory to achieve the 2030 forest goals advises the report.

🌳 Degradation poses a significant and ongoing Threat to Forests in all regions. Half of all regions experienced a decline in forest integrity compared to baseline levels

🌳 Only 18 Countries report on their restoration efforts under the Bonn Challenge

🌳 4.1 million hectares of Tropical Primary Forests were lost in 2022, with the 2022 target missed by 33%. The world’s progress on halting the loss of these irreplaceable forests is vastly insufficient.

Some other interesting points:

"Globally, only USD 2.2 billion in public funds are channeled to forests every year—a negligible fraction compared to other global investments. In fact, it would not even cover the cost of two football stadiums: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London cost about USD 1.1 billion to complete; and the budget for the ongoing renovation of Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona comes to USD 1.6 billion"

"Several regions continue to lose high integrity forests at alarming rates. These include non-tropical and tropical Latin America, non-tropical Africa, as well as boreal and temperate forests in North America and Europe."

"Well over 50 countries are on track to eliminate deforestation within their borders by 2030. For instance, in tropical Asia, the only region that is close to the pathway for achieving zero gross deforestation, Indonesia and Malaysia have achieved sustained reductions in deforestation."

"The majority of major companies in forest-risk commodity supply chains assessed by Forest 500 have no clear, comprehensive, or ambitious policy to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains."

"The majority of financial institutions have no forest risk policy covering their lending and investments. In 2022 alone, Forest 500 estimates that private financial institutions provided USD 6.1 trillion to companies most at risk of driving tropical deforestation through agricultural commodity production."

The key messages from the report:

  • In 2022, 6.6 million hectares of deforestation occurred worldwide. That means that not only did the world miss its 2022 target for eliminating deforestation by the end of the decade, but there was a 4 percent increase in deforestation compared to 2021.
  • Regional deforestation targets were missed in all tropical regions, though not to the same degree. Tropical Asia fared better than other tropical regions; it saw a 16 percent lower rate of deforestation in 2022 compared to baseline levels. While this progress is still slightly too slow (as deforestation in the region was still 1 percent higher than the Assessment-identified target), it shines in comparison to Tropical Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), which saw a 9 percent increase in deforestation compared to baseline. That means tropical LAC is the tropical region farthest off track from the pathway to 2030 (with 35 percent higher deforestation than the Assessment-identified target for 2022).
  • Progress on reducing deforestation was mixed in the world’s nontropical regions, with three out of five non-tropical regions (non-tropical Asia, and non-tropical Africa, North America) meeting their respective deforestation targets in 2022.
  • Global progress on eliminating primary forest loss was off track. Not only did the world miss its 2022 target for eliminating primary forest loss, but there was a 10 percent increase in pantropical humid primary forest loss in 2022 compared to 2021. Though available data is limited to humid tropical forest loss (rather than all primary forests), it is clear that the world’s progress on stopping the loss of these irreplaceable forests is vastly insufficient.
  • Gross emissions from deforestation increased. Gross emissions from deforestation increased by 6 percent compared to 2021—totaling 4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2022.
  • Forest degradation (data available only to 2021) fell somewhat below baseline overall. Degradation was higher than the baseline in tropical and non-tropical regions of Latin America and Africa, whilst rates decreased in tropical and non-tropical Asia, Europe, and North America.
  • Forest regrowth in tropical deforested areas has increased exponentially over the past four years, demonstrating the great capability of forests to recover from disturbances, but also signaling that at least a portion of deforested areas are abandoned after logging. Regrowth is certainly positive, but the ecological conditions characterizing mature forests may take decades to be reestablished.
  • While there is evidence that restoration is scaling up globally, tracking progress is hindered by the glaring lack of transparency on public and private efforts to restore forests across the world. It is essential that both public and private sector actors step up to report their restoration data with a focus on quality, validation, and transparency.
  • Forested KBAs saw significant loss in tree cover in 2022, and forest degradation continues, while slightly slowing down between 2020 and 2021. There was 1.2 million hectares of tree cover loss within KBAs – with only two regions meeting the Assessment-identified target needed to be on schedule to eliminate tree cover loss in forested KBAs by 2030.
  • Biodiversity in forests is declining at an alarming rate. According to 2022 updated data from the Forest Specialists Index, monitored populations of forest specialists (i.e., species dependent on forest habitats for their survival or reproduction) declined in abundance by 79 percent on average between 1970 and 2018 with habitat loss, habitat degradation, overexploitation, and climate change as the most pressing threats.

Australia's efforts assessed

Under Chapter 3 on Finance for Forests there is a case study considering Australia's actions. The report has identified the Western Australia end to native forest harvesting from 2024, but data gathering was probably too early to include the 23 May 2023 Victorian Government decision to end native logging from 1 January 2024 and ensure certainty for Timber workers.(Premier's media release)

Country case study - AUSTRALIA

Australia’s efforts to curb deforestation

Deforestation is a major issue in Australia, but recent developments bring hope. 

Australia was the only developed nation on WWF’s Deforestation Fronts world list of deforestation hotspots in 2021.1 This was largely due to persistent and significant forest losses in eastern Australian states. Nearly half of the forests that covered eastern Australia two centuries ago have now been cleared.2 Some forests have even been cleared to less than 10 percent of that area, leaving them endangered or critically endangered.3

Despite this discouraging trajectory, 2022 saw signs of progress: national-level deforestation was down by 36 percent, and the country could now be on track to halt deforestation by 2030 if the trend continues.4

Economic, political, and environmental factors drive changes in forest cover 

Land clearing for agriculture, driven by economic factors like high beef prices, is the largest contributor to deforestation in Australia.5 The expansion of urban areas and the misalignment of national and state policies further exacerbates the problem.6 While the central government can set incentives to reduce land clearing, state governments are ultimately in control of land use policy, and state policies have often not been consistent with federal conservation goals.7 Climate change played a role in forest cover change, evident during the severe drought from 2017-20. The drought culminated in major forest fires that destroyed 12.6 million hectares of forests and woodlands,8 followed by some of the wettest years on record in Australia, which contributed to rapid vegetation growth.9

Awareness and action are increasing. 

Catastrophic fires in 2018-20 contributed to rising public and governmental awareness and spurred improved forest policies and investments in restoration.10

The Australian federal government committed at least USD 144 million to native wildlife and habitat recovery, 11 created the Australian Carbon Credit Unit scheme (formerly known as the Emissions Reduction Fund),12 and may soon pass the Nature Repair Market Bill,13 a framework to enable and stimulate investment in biodiversity conservation and restoration. The government has also committed to provide USD 148 million in grants to Indigenous Protected Areas from 2023-28 to support Indigenous leadership in managing its fragile ecosystems.14

The private sector is increasingly acknowledging the importance of addressing deforestation due to legal and reputational risks. Australian beef companies with international operations are especially cautious about being associated with deforestation and are reevaluating their beef production methods. Many have signed voluntary commitments.15 Companies are compelled by the recent EU regulation requiring beef exporters to show their operations have not contributed to deforestation and cattle were not raised on land cleared after December 2020.16

1 Cox, L. (2021, January 12). Australia the only developed nation on world list of deforestation hotspots. The Guardian.

2 Wilderness Society. (2018). Deforestation in Australia: 10 alarming facts. Wilderness Society.

3 Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). (2021). Deforestation Front: Eastern Australia. Gland, Switzerland: Worldwide Fund for Nature.

4 Forest Declaration Assessment analysis based on GFW/Curtis et al. (2018).

5 Interview with Robert Waterworth.

6 Interview with Robert Waterworth.

7 Ward, M., & Watson, J. (2023, January 27). Why Queensland is still ground zero for Australian deforestation. The Conversation.

8 Australian Government. (2021). Australia State of the Environment 2021: Key Findings. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government.; WWF Australia. (2019). In-Depth: Australian Bushfires. WWF Australia.

9 Dungey, G. (2022, February 14). As Australia faces new fire reality, forest restoration tactics reevaluated. Mongabay.; Williams, K., Hunter, B., Schmidt, B., Woodward, E., & Cresswell, I. (2021). Australia State of the Environment 2021: Land. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government.

10 Interview with Robert Waterworth; Williams, K., et al. (2021).

11 Dungey, G. (2022, February 14).

12 Australian Government ACCU Scheme,

13 Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. (2023). Nature Repair Market Bill. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government.

14 Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. (2023b). Indigenous Protected Areas program grants. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government.

15 Interview with Robert Waterworth

16 Ward, M., & Watson, J. (2023, January 27)


Forest Declaration Assessment, Global Forests Assessment: 2023 Forest Declaration Assessment: Off track and falling behind Report.

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