Skip Navigation

Produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Subscribe Now

UMD Researchers Document Surge in Tropical Rainforest Destruction

By Renata Johnson

Data released this week by the University of Maryland Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) laboratory shows a 10% increase in tropical rainforest loss in 2022 compared to the previous year—with the resulting destruction of 4.1 million hectares equivalent to losing 11 football fields of forest area every minute.

Brazil experienced the most tropical forest loss by area, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bolivia. The extensive deforestation contributed to a staggering 2.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to India's annual fossil fuel emissions.

The trend contradicts the commitments outlined in the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, where 145 countries pledged in 2021 to halt and reverse forest loss by the end of the decade. Forests play a pivotal role in mitigating climate change, supporting human well-being and safeguarding biodiversity.

Despite the global agreement, some major countries such as Brazil have since increased primary forest clearing, said GLAD Research Professor Peter Potapov. There have been a few bright spots, however.

“The good news is that Indonesia, one of the major deforestation countries in the past, significantly reduced its annual rate of primary forest clearing in recent years, thanks to the implementation of the oil palm plantation expansion moratorium,” he said.

Since 2000, GLAD has monitored global forest extent and change as a part of the Global Forest Watch initiative in collaboration with the World Resources Institute. The tree cover loss data was provided by Potapov and GLAD Assistant Research Scientist Svetlana Turubanova; Assistant Research Professor Sasha Tyukavina updated the data on tree cover loss due to fire.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.