Forests

This chart signals the need for a rainforest OPEC

The Congo Rainforest is known as the world’s “second lungs”.

The Congo Rainforest is known as the world’s “second lungs”. Image: REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Anna Fleck
Data Journalist, Statista
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Forests

This article is part of: Centre for Nature and Climate
  • Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in discussions for a new ‘Rainforest OPEC’ deal, the Guardian reports.
  • These countries are currently home to over half of the world's remaining primary tropical forests.
  • This Statista chart shows primary tropical rainforest loss in 2021.

The Guardian reports that discussions over a potential new ‘Rainforest OPEC’ deal are underway between Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo - three countries holding the keys to 52 percent of the world’s remaining primary tropical forests. As world leaders descend on Sharm El-Sheikh this week for the COP27 summit, the question of the climate crisis is again leading international headlines.

Rainforests have gone into serious decline over the past decade. In terms of hectares lost, Brazil far outstrips any other country, with an astounding 1,548,657 hectares of land having been destroyed in 2021. The Amazon is the greatest of its kind on the planet, taking in almost two billion tons of CO2 a year. Scientists warn that we are coming dangerously close to a ‘tipping point’ where much further damage to it will be irreparable. The election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or Lula, earlier this month, has at least given environmentalists hope that the country will be able to get back on track as he has pledged to fight for zero deforestation.

The Democratic Republic of Congo comes second on the list for the most widespread destruction. The Congo Rainforest - of which 60 percent resides in the DRC - is colloquially known as the world’s “second lungs.” As our chart shows, it is second to Brazil not only in terms of its rainforest’s scale, but also the extent of destruction, having lost some 499,059 hectares in 2021 alone.

Last year, the tropics lost a total of 11.1 million hectares of tree cover, according to new data from the University of Maryland and available on Global Forest Watch, with major losses recorded in Bolivia, Indonesia, Peru, Colombia, Cameroon, Laos, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Discussions over a potential new ‘Rainforest OPEC’ deal are underway between Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Discussions over a potential new ‘Rainforest OPEC’ deal are underway between Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Image: Statista
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Related topics:
ForestsNature and BiodiversityClimate Change
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