29 Dec, 2017 @ 16:25
1 min read

Global wildfires result in loss of land equivalent to the size of Spain

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WILDFIRES: Threatening global tree stocks

SINCE the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 by 195 countries, deforestation has resulted in a loss of land mass to cover the whole of Spain, equal to 493,716 square kilometres.

According to new data released by Global Forest Watch (GFW) deforestation has decimated the equivalent of the surface of Spain and accounts for 10 to 15% of global carbon emissions.

2017 has seen more wildfires on more continents than any other time in history.

Dubbed ‘wildfire season,’ Iberian fires across Portugal and north western Spain claimed the lives of 49 people and the Lucifer heat wave that struck the Med this summer killed five as temperatures soared to 40 degrees centigrade.  

GFW research associate Liz Goldman said: “Forests are fundamentally hard to protect – they are in remote frontiers or in countries with weak governance.”

Adding: “But this doesn’t mean deforestation pledges are not having an impact – many of these agreements are still at an early stage.”

Since 2001 the GFW have tracked tree loss but in 2015 things took a dip, particularly New Guinea where deforestation jumped 70% as oil companies plundered the land.

Then in 2016 fires across the globe plummeted tree stocks by 51% and 2016 was one of the hottest years on record, just like 2017.

As hotter drier forests are harder to put out, the recent Californian wildfire in December was their third largest in history.

The scale of tree loss means more still needs to be done, according to Goldman.

“These large-scale fires damage the forests’ natural structure, affect the habitats of plant and wildlife, and release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air,” she said.

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