Asia Times –
The Greater Mekong region – Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Yunnan in southern China – was once the world’s most densely forested area. But it has lost a third of its natural forest cover and could lose a further 15-30 million hectares by 2030 unless serious action is taken immediately, a top environmental group has warned.
The region has experienced double-digit economic growth in the last 10 years, but is also one of 11 global deforestation fronts – areas that in the coming decades are projected to be responsible for up to 80% of global forest loss, a new report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says.
Between 2010 and 2016, the amount of forest lost in the region was equal to 24 times the size of Hanoi, the Forest Pulse report says. And it’s not only trees at stake but the vast array of life inside these forest ecosystems.
More than 2,500 new species of vertebrates and vascular plants have been discovered in the forests of the Greater Mekong over the past 20 years. In addition to hosting tigers, elephants, bears and Saola, the Greater Mekong forests provide clean drinking water for tens of millions of people and protect dozen of rivers, including the Mekong itself, which produces over 4.5 million tonnes of fish each year.