The World Lost 18 Million Hectares of Forest in 2013

By Jamie Condliffe on at

New high-resolution maps of international woodland reveal that the world lost 18 million hectares of forest to wildfires, deforestation, and development in 2013.

The maps, such as the one shown above, were created by Global Forest Watch in a collaboration between University of Maryland an Google, bringing together more than 400,000 satellite images from by NASA’s Landsat mission. An incredible 34 per cent of all that loss was found in Canada and Russia, losing 2.5 million hectares and 4.3 million hectares respectively. Their northern boreal forests suffered at the hands of large-scale wildfires.

As Motherboard points out, such losses could be part of a viscous global cycle. There’s evidence to suggest that wildfires become more frequent as global temperatures rise; as trees burn, they release large quantities of carbon into the atmosphere that would otherwise remain locked inside them, exacerbating the effects of climate change. Sadly, loss may lead to more accelerated loss. [Global Forest Watch via Motherboard]