Every year the world loses an estimated 25 million acres (10 million hectares) of forest, according to research by Jennifer A. Devine from Texas State University.
Devine, writing in "The Conversation," states that tropical forests, which is where most deforestation occurs, store enormous quantities of carbon and are home to at least two-thirds of the world's living species, so deforestation has disastrous consequences for climate change and conservation. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, but when they are burned or logged, they release their stored carbon, fueling further warming.
From Devine’s research on social and environmental issues in Latin America, she determined that four consumer goods are responsible for the majority of global deforestation: beef, soy, palm oil, and wood pulp and paper products. Together these commodities are responsible for the loss of nearly 12 million acres (5 million hectares) annually.
However, there’s also a fifth, less publicized key driver: organized crime, including illegal drug trafficking.
In South America and Central America, for instance, criminals illegally log forests in the Amazon and hide cocaine in timber shipments to Europe. Other drug traffickers illegally log and raise cattle in protected areas in Central America to launder money and claim drug smuggling territory.
Read the original article in its entirety, here.
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