With most of the planet locked down due to the Covid-19 crisis, experts believe this could be the time when nature finally takes a break amid low human activity and get into a healing mode. However, a latest report suggests that coronavirus lockdown may have a detrimental effect on the planet’s forest cover.
A report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), in collaboration with news agency Thomson Reuters, says that the Covid-19 lockdown has put the world’s forests at a risk.
According to the report, poor people who have lost work or are temporarily out of work in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic cut down trees for fuel and other purposes.
Many people depend on forests for livelihood, food and shelter. Millions who have lost casual work in cities amid the coronavirus crisis are returning to their native places in rural areas, the report states.
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Around the world, 1 billion people depend on wild foods and 2.4 billion use wood for cooking, while more than nine out of 10 people living in extreme poverty depend on forests for at least part of their livelihoods.
Mette Wilkie, director of the forestry division at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that trees are more likely to be felled for food and fuel as a third of the world’s population still depend on wood to cook. The Covid-19 lockdown could exacerbate this.
UN FAO’s ‘State of the World’s Forests 2020’ report links the rise of infectious diseases, such as Covid-19, to forest loss.
According to the report, the planet has lost an estimated 420 million hectares of forest since 1990 – more than three times the size of South Africa.
No break for nature?
There is a misperception that nature is getting a break during the Covid-19 pandemic, the WEF states in another report. “Many rural areas in the tropics are facing increased pressure from land-grabbing, deforestation, illegal mining and wildlife poaching,” the report reads. Outside urban areas, the picture in rural regions paints a different scenario with an increased pressure on nature and resources.
The coronavirus pandemic has infected over 5.5 million people across the globe while more than 3.4 lakh people have succumbed to death due to Covid-19. More than 2 million patients have recovered from the dealy contagion globally.