A year after more than 140 countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030, experts report that little has been done to finance protections or pass new conservation laws.
The pledge received widespread praise at the COP26 climate summit last year, especially since Brazil, Indonesia, and Congo all signed on. Together, the three countries contain more than fifty percent of the world's tropical rainforests.
"What happened to these promises? Are we in a position to meet them? The brief response is no, "Last month, Erin Matson coordinated the production of the Forest Declaration Assessment report by non-profits.
To fulfil the commitment, the world must reduce deforestation by 10% annually on average from 2021 to 2030. In contrast, deforestation decreased by only 6.3% in 2012, as two of the three rainforest nations experienced early setbacks.
Using data from the Global Forest Watch monitoring project, the report examines developments in financing, conservation legislation, and sustainable food production.
The majority of signatories have yet to detail their plans for passing or implementing stronger forest protections. Global funding for the goal is approximately $2.3 billion per year, which is significantly less than the $460 billion per year that the assessment indicates is required.
Experts hope that the COP27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, next week will encourage more investment from companies and nations seeking to offset their emissions by preserving and replanting forests.
According to Laura Albuquerque, a senior manager at the consulting firm WayCarbon, negotiators at the summit will work to finalise the rules for global offsets trading with the goal of having the system operational by 2025. If no agreement is reached at COP27, the timeline will be delayed by at least one year.
She stated that "COP will send an important signal to the forest sector" It is of vital importance for attracting investment.
The largest rainforest nation also leads the world in deforestation, as illegal logging, agriculture, and land speculation rapidly deforest the Amazon.
Since right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019, environmental protections have been weakened and the region is being developed. Despite this, Bolsonaro's administration pledged last year to end deforestation in Brazil by 2028.
Preliminary government data indicates that Brazil's forest clearance will increase by another 23% in 2022, after reaching a 15-year high in 2021.
Environmentalists and scientists are optimistic that the situation will improve following the election of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who pledges to take a variety of measures to combat deforestation and climate change, last month. However, the world must exert pressure on Lula to make these changes, they said.
"International community pressure on Lula is equally welcome," said Rita Mesquita, an ecologist with Brazil's National Institute of Amazonian Research. We must achieve zero deforestation.
Lula plans to attend COP27 prior to assuming office in January in an effort to reestablish Brazil's leadership on deforestation and climate change, according to his advisors who spoke with Reuters.
According to them, the president will work immediately to protect the Amazon, including increasing Bolsonaro's cut deforestation resources.
"The commitment is to reverse the trend by 2023," Izabella Teixeira, former environment minister under Lula, told Reuters. "This will require a great deal of effort."
According to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Association, the Democratic Republic of Congo's deforestation rate over the past two decades has been the highest in its history, driven by poverty and lawlessness.
With the second-largest rainforest in the world, Congo has struggled to prevent tree cutting for firewood, subsistence farming, illegal logging, and even industrial development.
The government promised to improve forest protections after COP26, but has yet to demonstrate any concrete efforts to do so. Instead, Congo drew international condemnation for its plan to allow oil and gas drilling in virgin rainforest and carbon-rich peatlands.
"Without an energy policy, deforestation is at its peak in the provinces," said Guillaume Tshitende, a research scientist at Kolwezi University.
Only Indonesia has managed to reduce deforestation among the three rainforest nations over the past year, continuing a six-year trend that has been encouraged by market forces, business pressure, and improvements in law enforcement and forest management.
Comparing the period from July 2021 to June 2022, deforestation decreased 1.3% to 1,135 square kilometres (439 square miles).
In 2019, the government ceased issuing permits for primary forest and peatland clearance for plantations and logging. In the first seven months of the year, deforestation caused by land clearance for palm oil plantations slowed even as palm oil prices soared.
Norway also agreed in September to pay Indonesia to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by protecting its forests and peatlands, as Indonesia works to restore the area as a "carbon sink" that would absorb more CO2 than it emits.