Global Deforestation Veering Off Track, Threatening People, Climate and Biodiversity

A new study by a coalition of civil society and research organisations assessing progress toward pledges by countries, companies, and investors to eliminate deforestation and restore 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 reveals that in 2022, global progress on protecting and restoring forests moved too slowly and, in some cases, worsened.

“The world’s forests are in crisis. All these promises have been made to halt deforestation, and to fund forest protection. But the opportunity to make progress is passing us by year after year,” said Erin Matson, a lead author of the Forest Declaration Assessment and a senior consultant at Climate Focus.

“We saw that in 2021, efforts to end deforestation were already lagging. 2022 was a chance to catch up, but leaders fell short once again. We can’t afford to keep stumbling on the road to no deforestation by 2030. It’s now clear that halting deforestation will require sweeping changes to the economy — and that all of society has a role to play.”

Overall, global deforestation increased by 4% in 2022 compared to 2021. This loss of some 6.6 million hectares of forest means that the world is 21% off track to eliminate deforestation by 2030. Efforts to protect primary tropical forests — the densest, most pristine forests on earth — are 33% off track, with 4.1 million hectares lost in 2022. Globally, the world needs to reduce deforestation by 27.8% to be on track in 2023.

The annual assessment of international commitments, including the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use (2021), tracks progress on reducing forest loss compared to the average deforestation rate between 2018 and 2020 (the “baseline level”), aiming to reach zero loss by 2030. In 2021, deforestation slowed, but not enough to be on track to reach the 2030 goal. In 2022, global deforestation rates increased, putting the world even further off track.

“Hope isn’t lost, though,” added Franziska Haupt, a lead author and managing partner at Climate Focus.

“We also find that some 50 countries are on track to end deforestation in their borders. Major rainforest countries like Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia have demonstrated drastic reductions in forest loss. The reforms it takes aren’t pie in the sky, and these countries set clear examples that others must follow. But the challenge is great: globally, we will need to reduce deforestation by 27.8% to be on track in 2023,” said Haupt.