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SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: June 27, 2018

SNIP: The world lost more than one football pitch of forest every second in 2017, according to new data from a global satellite survey, adding up to an area equivalent to the whole of Italy over the year.

The scale of tree destruction, much of it done illegally, poses a grave threat to tackling both climate change and the massive global decline in wildlife. The loss in 2017 recorded by Global Forest Watch was 29.4m hectares, the second highest recorded since the monitoring began in 2001.

Forest losses are a huge contributor to the carbon emissions driving global warming, about the same as total emissions from the US, which is the world’s second biggest polluter. Deforestation destroys wildlife habitat and is a key reason for populations of wildlife having plunged by half in the last 40 years, starting a sixth mass extinction.

It is estimated that only about 15% of the forests likely to have existed before human civilisation remain intact today: a quarter have been razed and the rest fragmented or degraded.

Brazil, with its vast Amazon territory, is vital in fighting deforestation and for a decade from 2005 a government crackdown lead to falling deforestation. But tree felling is now rising fast again, as political strife distracts the authorities. More than a quarter of Brazil’s tree losses in 2017 were due to fires deliberately set to clear land.