Global Deforestation Exploration : 1990 to 2016

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The aim of this analysis is to analyse the extent of global deforestation from year 1990 to 2016.
For this data analysis SQL, Python and Tableau have been used to find areas of concern as well as areas that present an opportunity to learn from successes.

In the last few decades, our planet has witnessed many climate changes as a response to various human activities. One such mostly cited activity is deforestation along with others such as air and water contamination. Climate change due to deforestation has gained global importance in the last few years. Earlier our planet was covered with 60 million square kilometers of the forest before human intervention in the environment.

The data is obtained from the World Bank, it includes forest area and total land area by country from 1990 to 2016, as well as a table of countries and the regions to which they belong.

 

Importing data and snippet of the data output.

 

1. GLOBAL SITUATION

According to the World Bank, the total forest area of the world was 41,282,694.9 sq km in 1990. And in 2016, that number had fallen to 39,958,245.9 sq km, a loss of 1,324,449 sq km or 3.26055 %.

The forest area lost over this time period is slightly more than the entire land area of Peru listed for the year 2016 (which is 1,279,999.9891 sq km or 494,208.49 sq mi ).

Below is the code used to arrive at these numbers.

First, let’s find the total forest area around the world in the year 1990 and 2016.

 

 

 

Now to find out which country’s total area is closest to the entire amount of forest area lost between 1990 and 2016.

 

 

2. REGIONAL OUTLOOK

In 2016, the per cent of the total land area of the world designated as the forest was 31.38 %. The region with the highest relative forestation(per cent of forest area out of the total land area) was Latin America Caribbean, with 46.16 %, and the region with the lowest relative forestation was the Middle East North Africa, with 2.07% forestation.

In 1990, the per cent of the total land area of the world designated as the forest was 32.42%. The region with the highest relative forestation was Latin America Caribbean, with 51.03%, and the region with the lowest relative forestation was the Middle East North Africa, with 1.78% forestation.

The only regions of the world that decreased in per cent forest area from 1990 to 2016 were Sub-Saharan Africa (dropped from 30.67 % to 28.79%) and Latin America Caribbean (51.03% to 46.16 %). All other regions actually increased in forest area over this time period. However, the drop-in forest area in the two aforementioned regions was so large, the per cent forest area of the world decreased over this time period from 32.42 % to 31.38 %.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, let's find the region level of forest per cent. For that first combine all three tables together: forest_area,land_area and regions. And create two additional columns:

  1. ‘total_area_sqkm’ - to calculate total land area in sq km (1 sq mi = 2.59 sq km).
  2. ‘forest_percent’- to calculate total forest area per cent.

 

 

Visualization showing percentage forest change of a region :

 

 

Forest percentage of African countries in 2016. This graph has been created in Tableau.

 

 

3. COUNTRY-LEVEL DETAIL

There is one particularly bright spot in the data at the country level, China. This country actually increased in forest area from 1990 to 2016 by 5,27,229.062 sq km. It would be interesting to study what has changed in this country over this time to drive this figure in the data higher. The country with the next largest increase in forest area from 1990 to 2016 was the United States, but it only saw an increase of 79,200 sq km, much lower than the figure for China.

China and United States are of course very large countries in total land area, so when we look at the largest per cent change in forest area from 1990 to 2016, we aren’t surprised to find a much smaller country listed at the top.

 

 

 

 

Which countries are seeing deforestation to the largest degree? We can answer this question in two ways. First, we can look at the absolute square kilometre decrease in forest area from 1990 to 2016.

 

 

The second way to consider which countries are of concern is to analyze the data by per cent decrease.

 

 

 

 

When we consider countries that decreased in the forest area the most between 1990 and 2016, we find that four of the top 5 countries on the list are in the region of Sub-Saharan Africa. The countries are TogoNigeriaUganda, and Mauritania. The 5th country on the list is Honduras, which is in the Latin America Caribbean region.

From the above analysis, we see that Nigeria is the only country that ranks in the top 5 both in terms of absolute square kilometre decrease in the forest as well as the per cent decrease in forest area from 1990 to 2016. Therefore, this country has a significant opportunity ahead to stop the decline and hopefully spearhead remedial efforts.

Now let's divide the countries into 4 quartiles to find the total count of countries divided by Forestation Percent for the year 2016.

The largest number of countries in 2016 were found in the 0–25% quartile. There were countries in the top quartile in 2016. These are countries with a very high percentage of their land area designated as forest.

 

 

 

 

 

4. CONCLUSION

From the World bank data, I found that World forest reduced from 41,282,694.9 sq. km in 1990 to 39,958,245.9 sq. km in 2016 which is nearly a loss of 3.2% making it a cause of concern for forests around the world.

China and United states are 2 countries whose forest area increased from 1990 to 2016. Whereas Sub-Saharan Africa Region is becoming the next biggest concern as top 4 countries whose forest percent area decreased the most belongs to this region.

Countries which have highest forest percentage area are from East Asia Pacific region, these countries have more than 75% forest designated area. Only one countries from sub-Saharan African region lie in this category with 90% of forest designated area.

Brazil is one of the country with highest absolute forest area change from 1990 to 2016, this country has its own reasons for this change, to name few, forest fires, increasing mining activities, etc making it account for the a third of worlds primary forest loss.

 

References : 

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-63657-6

https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/06/global-tree-cover-loss-data-2019

 

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