By Neil Palmer/CIAT (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published on the New York Times.


“…Intact forests today total around 11.8 million square kilometers (about 4.6 million square miles), according to estimates by a group of researchers and organizations, including Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch, World Resources Institute, Transparent World, University of Maryland, World Wildlife Fund of Russia and Wildlife Conservation Society. That’s roughly the United States and Mexico combined. It’s about a quarter of the planet’s total forest area, the rest of which is fragmented by roads, mines, cities and agriculture. Over 7 percent has been lost since 2000. Keeping the rest is a key to turning around three stubborn global trends: climate change, the sixth great extinction crisis and the loss of human cultures.

In the tropics, intact forests hold 40 percent of the aboveground forest carbon even though they make up only 20 of those latitudes’ forests. And intact forests have been shown recently to absorb enough carbon to offset many Amazon countries’ (like Peru) total emissions. When forests become fragmented, edge effects (forest damage at created edges), drying and fire cause over 150 million tons of annual emissions — more than result from outright deforestation…”

Read on at: the New York Times.