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Ranked: The Top Countries by Total Forest Loss Since 2001


Forests are vital to the health of the planet, providing a home for diverse wildlife, regulating the climate, and supplying oxygen for us to breathe. Despite their importance, deforestation continues at an alarming rate in many parts of the world. According to data from the University of Maryland, approximately 120,000 square kilometers of tree cover was lost in 2019 alone, equivalent to an area approximately the size of Nicaragua.

To understand the scale of this issue, Visual Capitalist has compiled a list of the top countries by total forest loss since 2001. This data provides an overview of the countries that have experienced the most significant depletion of their forest resources over the past two decades.


The data used for this analysis comes from the Global Forest Change dataset, which is based on satellite imagery and is updated annually. To calculate the total forest loss for each country, we aggregated the data from 2001 to 2019 to calculate the cumulative loss over this period. The values are reported in square kilometers.

The Top Countries by Total Forest Loss Since 2001

  1. Brazil - Total Forest Loss: 308,313 square kilometers

    Brazil, home to a significant portion of the Amazon rainforest, has experienced the highest total forest loss since 2001. Deforestation in the Amazon basin is primarily driven by agriculture, logging, and urban expansion. Despite efforts to combat deforestation, such as the establishment of protected areas and increased law enforcement, the loss of forest cover in Brazil remains a critical concern.

  2. Indonesia - Total Forest Loss: 110,921 square kilometers

    Indonesia's forests have faced extensive degradation, largely due to the expansion of the palm oil industry and illegal logging. The government has made efforts to address deforestation through initiatives like the moratorium on new logging permits, but the problem persists. Additionally, forest fires, often caused by land clearing activities, have contributed significantly to Indonesia's forest loss.

  3. Russia - Total Forest Loss: 66,373 square kilometers

    Russia's vast boreal forests have seen substantial depletion since 2001, mainly as a result of wildfires, logging, and infrastructure development. Climate change has also played a role, as rising temperatures have increased the frequency and intensity of wildfires in the region.

  4. Democratic Republic of the Congo - Total Forest Loss: 62,526 square kilometers

    Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is primarily driven by agricultural expansion, logging, and mining activities. The country's forests are also under threat from political instability and armed conflict, which make enforcement of conservation measures more challenging.

  5. Canada - Total Forest Loss: 46,031 square kilometers

    Despite being known for its vast expanses of wilderness, Canada has experienced significant forest loss due to logging, urbanization, and wildfires. Climate change has also contributed to the increased frequency of wildfires, which have had a notable impact on the country's forest cover.

  6. United States - Total Forest Loss: 40,178 square kilometers

    The U.S. has seen extensive forest loss primarily due to urban expansion, agriculture, and wildfires. While the country has implemented conservation initiatives and reforestation programs, the overall trend of forest loss continues.

  7. Australia - Total Forest Loss: 37,850 square kilometers

    Forest loss in Australia is largely attributed to wildfires, land clearing for agriculture, and invasive species. The continent has experienced some of the most devastating wildfires in recent years, which have had a profound effect on its forest ecosystems.

  8. Argentina - Total Forest Loss: 34,899 square kilometers

    Deforestation in Argentina is driven by agricultural expansion, particularly for soybean and cattle production. The government has implemented measures to combat deforestation, such as the establishment of protected areas, but the problem persists.

  9. Paraguay - Total Forest Loss: 31,698 square kilometers

    Paraguay has experienced significant forest loss due to agriculture, particularly for soybean cultivation. The expansion of industrial agriculture has led to widespread deforestation, particularly in the Chaco region.

  10. Bolivia - Total Forest Loss: 30,054 square kilometers

    Deforestation in Bolivia is primarily driven by agriculture, mining, and illegal logging. The country's forests are also under threat from infrastructure development and the expansion of the agricultural frontier.


The loss of global forest cover has far-reaching implications for biodiversity, climate regulation, and the well-being of communities that depend on forests for their livelihoods. While some countries have made efforts to combat deforestation through conservation measures and sustainable land use practices, the scale of forest loss remains a significant challenge.

Addressing deforestation requires a multi-faceted approach that includes stronger enforcement of environmental regulations, sustainable land use planning, and support for alternative livelihoods that do not rely on forest destruction. Additionally, international cooperation and initiatives aimed at reducing the demand for commodities that drive deforestation, such as palm oil and soybeans, are crucial in addressing this global issue.

As the top countries by total forest loss since 2001 demonstrate, the challenge of deforestation is widespread and complex. However, with concerted efforts and effective policies, it is possible to reverse the trend of forest loss and ensure the preservation of these vital ecosystems for future generations.

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