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Satellite mapping captures perilous picture of deforestation

Malaysia: A recent satellite mapping of seven tropical countries reveal an alarming number of recent tree cover loss took place in natural forests rather than plantations. The situation is perilous and threatening our ecosystems and biodiversity, shows research.

The data found that in Brazil, Colombia, Liberia and Peru, more than 90 per cent of tree cover lost in 2013 and 2014 was natural forest, they said. The maps covered 45.8 million hectares of plantations in Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Indonesia, Liberia, Malaysia and Peru.

“It’s surprising and a little bit disturbing and shows us how much is at stake in those four countries, where most of the forest being lost is natural,” said Ms. Rachael Petersen, WRI analyst.

Natural forests provide climate, water and biodiversity benefits that oil palm, rubber, timber and other man-made plantations, especially in the tropics, do not, Ms Petersen said.

A natural forest is a complex, self-regenerating system with a microclimate and wide variety of plants and animals, while plantations tend to grow a single species and require ongoing intervention such as fertilisation and pesticides, experts say.

Tree plantations comprise 7 per cent of the world’s forest cover, researchers said. Plantations cover almost a third of the land area in Malaysia and 13 per cent of the land in Indonesia. Most are oil palm plantations, followed by rubber. Malaysia and Indonesia are the world’s top palm oil producers.

Source: Today Online