Twenty-five years ago, lush forests covered 73 percent of Cambodia’s land area. By 2010 this figure had shrunk to 57 percent as a result of harmful practices like illegal logging, mining, slash-and-burn agriculture, and land grabbing.
Now, U.S. satellite data confirms that forest loss in Cambodia has accelerated at a faster rate than in any other nation over the past decade, the Cambodia Daily reports. More than 14,000 square kilometers of forest were lost between 2001 and 2013—and much of this deforestation occurred inside protected lands, including wildlife sanctuaries and conservation areas.
These numbers were recently released by the World Resources Institute, which used satellite data gathered by Google and the University of Maryland to monitor global forest change. According to the Cambodia Daily, other countries that lost large amounts of tree cover were Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
Bottom line? Deforestation isn’t just high in certain countries, it’s speeding up, University of Maryland researcher Dr. Matt Hansen confirmed in a statement. Governments need to boost forest protection efforts—and to start considering whether short-term boosts to the economy are worth the loss of entire ecosystems.
[h/t Cambodia Daily]