Satellite data suggests forest loss is accelerating

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A view is seen from the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) in Sao Sebastiao do UatumaBy Kyle Plantz LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Satellite images suggest tropical forests from the Amazon to the Philippines are disappearing at a far more rapid pace than previously thought, a University of Maryland team of forest researchers say. The annual rate of deforestation from 1990 to 2010 was 62 percent higher than in the previous decade, and higher than previous estimates, according to a study carried out of satellite maps covering 80 percent of the world’s tropical forests. The new study questions the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) assessment, which suggested that the rate of deforestation actually decreased 25 percent from 1990 to 2010. Until now, “the Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) report of the United Nation’s FAO was the only one available source to estimate long term forest change and its trends,” said Do-Hyung Kim, lead author of the study that is expected to be published in Geophysical Research Letters.