Three trees are cut down each year for every Singaporean: study

The barren Kranji Woodlands captured in February 2021. Photo: Brice Li/Facebook
The barren Kranji Woodlands captured in February 2021. Photo: Brice Li/Facebook

Growing appetites for soybeans, coffee and other commodities in wealthy nations is decimating forests around the world, and one of the culprits is Singapore, according to a new study. 

Singapore accounts for the loss over three trees per person annually, more than in 22 other countries, according to research by Japan’s Research Institute for Humanity and Nature published this week in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. 

“Deforestation, a significant threat to biodiversity, is accelerated by global demand for commodities,” read the intro to the report, which mapped global deforestation through 15 years ending in 2015. It was authored by environmental researchers Nguyen Tien Hoang and Keiichiro Kanemoto and published Monday. 

Singapore’s 3.1 trees per person average came in just below that of people in the world’s seven largest economies.

“Consumption patterns of G7 countries drive an average loss of 3.9 trees per person per year. Some of the hotspots of deforestation embodied in international trade are also biodiversity hotspots, such as in Southeast Asia, Madagascar, Liberia, Central America and the Amazonian rainforest.”

For example, deforestation in Tanzania is linked to Japan’s demand for agricultural products, while deforestation in Vietnam is linked to demand for coffee in the United States, Germany, and Italy, the study found.

Singapore was just behind Brazil, where 3.2 trees have been lost per person, annually. This is followed by Indonesia (2) and Argentina (1.4). The other nations studied were below one tree per capita.

Besides driving up deforestation on a global scale, Singapore has also been stripping its own land of trees to make way for urban development. Last month, residents were alarmed by a large swathe of forest cut down “mistakenly” by a developer in Kranji.

The government announced last month that it was planting a million trees across the island by 2030 as part of its “green plan.”

The study was based on data from a global database of domestic and international trade relationships in 15,000 industries, which was used to map out each country’s deforestation footprint based on its population’s consumption.

According to the Singapore Food Agency, the nation imports 90% of its food. In 2018, the top suppliers were France, Malaysia, United Kingdom, China, and Indonesia, data from the World Integrated Trade Solution showed.

Other stories you should check out:

Trumpet Trees are blooming across Singapore – but not for long (Photos)

Hougang neighborhood garden, 30-year home to flowers and veggies, uprooted again
Satellite images support JTC timeline for destroyed Kranji woodland

‘Singapore’s forest are in dire need of protection’: Development’s toll extends beyond Kranji woodland
Singapore lays out ambitious green plan calling for a million more trees

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