Massive wildfires and widespread deforestation destroyed 27.5 million acres of tropical tree cover, including 9.3 million acres of primary forests in 2021, according to WRI’s authoritative annual Global Forest Review, released this morning. Primary, also known as ‘old-growth’, forest destruction released 2.5 billion metric tons of CO2. That’s about as much as all fossil fuel emissions from India, the world’s fourth-largest emitter. More than 16 million acres of Northern boreal forests, particularly in Russia, were also lost last year, mainly due to wildfires.

While year-on-year forest loss varies slightly due to wildfires, old-growth forest losses have been remarkably consistent in recent years and are far higher than the limit necessary to meet the commitment reached at COP 26 in Glasgow last year to “halt and reverse forest loss by 2030.” In the time it took you to read this paragraph, approximately six soccer fields of tropical old growth forests were destroyed. (Washington Post $, Axios, New York Times $, BBC, The Guardian, CNN, Bloomberg $, Reuters, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Factbox, New Scientist, The Straits Times, AFP, EFE; Indonesia: The Straits Times)