Brussels: The global effort to halt deforestation by 2030 is faltering, with a 4% increase in forest loss recorded in 2022 compared to 2021, according to an environmental report released on Tuesday.
"The world's forests are in crisis," said Erin Matson, a lead author of the Forest Declaration Assessment, an annual report by a coalition of environmental organisations. "The opportunity to make progress is passing us by."
In 2021, over 100 countries pledged to reverse forest degradation by 2030. The pledge also saw businesses and investors publicly commit to ending global deforestation and restoring up to 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
However, the world is now 21% behind the target with 6.6 million hectares of forests lost in 2022, with most being primary forests in tropical regions.
Matson warned the 2030 goal is "essential for maintaining a livable climate for humanity."
"Since the baseline of 2018 to 2020, we're going in the wrong direction," she added.
The efforts are falling short with "an area of tropical forest the size of Denmark has been lost" since the global pledge was made, according to Fran Price, global forest lead for the environmental NGO the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).
"The world is failing forests with devastating consequences on a global scale," Price added.
What are the immediate needs?
According to environmental group Climate Focus, some of the main causes of forest degradation include logging activities, livestock grazing, and road construction.
With the uptick in deforestation, the world would need to see a reduction of 27.8% by the end of this year to stay on track with current goals, according to Matson.
Experts from the report warned that the yearly $2.2 billion (€2.06 billion) allocated for forest protection projects is significantly less than the required investment.
They also called for the discontinuation of subsidies in sectors such as agriculture that contribute to deforestation.
'Hope isn't lost'
On the positive side, 50 nations, including Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia, are progressing towards ending deforestation. The report praised the European Union's new regulations aimed at preventing the imports of commodities that drive deforestation.
"Hope isn't lost," Franziska Haupt, a lead author of the report said. "These countries set clear examples that others must follow."
The report comes before countries meet for crucial climate talks next month.