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Deforestation in conflict areas in 2020

Key findings

  • Deforestation is an ongoing concern in many conflict-affected and post-conflict countries, with many of the drivers linked either directly or indirectly to the conflict. The drivers are diverse, but they have in common that they are allowed to flourish by weak institutional environments.
  • In 2020, there was a sharp increase in forest loss in most conflict-affected countries, which in some can be tentatively linked to COVID-19, either through economic hardship or organised crime taking advantage of distracted institutions.
  • In total, and across all conflict-affected areas assessed, forest loss increased by 10% in 2020 to 3.2 million hectares. Based on the woody biomass lost in tropical areas only, this amounts to approximately 1.1 mega tonnes of CO2 – nearly four times the total emissions from the UK in 2020.
  • The country of most immediate concern is Myanmar. Since the military coup in February, there has been a proliferation of logging of primary rainforest, reportedly being illegally exported to the surrounding countries. It is unclear how long this deforestation spree will last, or what shape it will take – the military junta has historically used logging as a short-term revenue flow.
  • Another country of concern is the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to forests with the highest ecological and climate value, and the highest number of people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. There has been an 8% increase in forest loss since 2019.
  • More in-depth research is required to map the conflict-deforestation relationship in more detail, and to provide data than can help break the link by promoting economic alternatives to deforestation in conflict-affected areas.


1. Introduction

2. Summary of changes in 2020

3. Countries with ongoing conflicts

     3.1 Myanmar

     3.2 Democratic Republic of the Congo

     3.3 South Sudan

     3.4 Syria

4. Post-conflict countries

     4.1 Colombia

     4.2 Senegal

     4.3 Vietnam

5. Conclusion

Read the full report.


This description was excerpted from