There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year, whilst an international football pitch measures 0.82 hectares, so EXACTLY a football pitch per second would amount to 25,859,520 hectares.
According to new satellite imaging data from Global Forest Watch, it's worse than that. A total of 29.4 million hectares of forest was lost in 2017.
That’s a staggering amount of forest to lose from our planet and it’s the second highest amount since the satellite surveys began in 2001. Destruction of forests has increased in Colombia and Brazil, whilst it has doubled in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However it’s not all bad news. Better enforcement from the government and a reduction in forest fires means that deforestation was decreased by 60% in Indonesia.
Rainforests are still being cut down for the timber (tropical hardwoods are still prized in some parts of the world, despite the damage it causes to the rainforests), to make way for cattle ranches, soya plantations (much of the soya grown is used to feed the cattle), for palm oil plantations. We probably only have around 15% remaining of the forest that used to cover our planet before the arrival of human beings
The simple loss of the forest is not the only issue here. As forests are destroyed, global carbon emissions increase and the forest loss in 2017 produced carbon emissions roughly equivalent to the total CO2 output of the United States.
It’s not all bad news. Efforts are being made to grow new forests in countries like China and India, but the precise impact of this new growth is not yet clear and certainly it’s far outstripped by the forest we have lost.
But it is mostly bad news and it’s obvious that we can’t continue cutting down forests in this way without consequences. The increased carbon emissions caused by loss of forests act to increase climate change, so it will in time affect everyone on the planet, regardless of whether they are cutting down forests in their own country or not. Currently only 2% of the funding available for climate action is used to protect forests. This is something that urgently needs to change.