Agriculture is the leading cause of some 75 percent of global deforestation. If rates of deforestation continue as projected, forests will diminish dramatically by 2100.
Strassbourg et al., 2012; Blaser and Robledo, 2007
Methods, caveats and issues
Van der Werf et al. (2009: 738) use Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methods and updated values, and suggest CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (excluding peatland emissions) of about 1.2 petagrams of carbon per year (Pg C yr–1), which is 23 percent less than the value stated in IPCC Working Group I’s 2007 report. As a result, deforestation and forest degradation emissions contribute about 12 percent of total anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
Van der Werf et al. (2009) assume that rates of forest decline for 2000 to 2005 were almost the same as in the 1990s, based on survey and satellite-based approaches to calculate deforestation area. Carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion have increased substantially over the same period, making the relative contribution from deforestation and forest degradation even smaller.
The figure for agriculture’s contribution to total deforestation is 75 percent, which was estimated by Blaser and Robledo (2007). However, calculating agriculture’s share of this deforestation is fraught with uncertainties, and is not attempted by the IPCC.
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