TORONTO -- A new report suggests that only about one-third of the world’s tropical rainforest remains intact.

Using data from the forest monitoring program Global Forest Watch, Rainforest Foundation Norway found that only 36 per cent of the planet’s nearly 14.6 million square kilometres of tropical rainforest remains intact, while 34 per cent of it is completely gone and the remaining 30 per cent has been degraded.

 “The good news is that we have an area half the size of Europe that is still completely intact,” Anders Krogh, author of the report and Rainforest Foundation Norway special adviser, said in a news release.

“However, the remaining tropical rainforests are either severely damaged or increasingly fragmented. Humans are chopping these once vast and impenetrable forests into smaller and smaller pieces, undermining their ability to store carbon, cool the planet, produce rain and provide habitats. The world depends on tropical rainforests to provide these services.” 

Using the data source, the researchers were able to compile information from each of the 73 countries around the world that are home to tropical rainforests.

“We now know how much tropical rainforest is left in the world and the state it is in, and we have compared this to estimates of how much tropical rainforest that existed before modern human interference,” Krogh said in the release. “This knowledge is essential for the upscaling of the global fight to save what is left. It is alarming that nearly half of the world’s rainforests are degraded.” 

The study notes that Asia has been particularly hard-hit with tropical deforestation.The Indonesian island of Sumatra, for example, only has nine per cent of its original tropical rainforest remaining.

The continent is now home to just seven per cent of the world’s tropical rainforests.

Additionally, between 2002 and 2019, deforestation around the world contributed to the loss of tropical rainforests the size of France and the planet lost tropical rainforests the size of Belgium every year during that span.

Mass tropical rainforest deforestation began during the turn of the 19th century to meet the increased need for rubber to supply the mass production of cars. Today, deforestation of these areas is commonly used for international trade and production of items such as soy, palm oil and minerals, to name a few.

“These highly specialized ecosystems are suffering from constant and persistent abuse, through our bottomless appetite for land and resources,” Krogh said.