The U.S. southeast lost 0.84% of its natural forest area in 2022, while Brazil lost 0.66%. Other “deforestation hotspots”, Cameroon and Indonesia, lost 0.48% and 0.25% respectively.

US southeast natural forest loss - The U.S. southeast lost more natural forest than Brazil in 2022.

Although a relatively high rate of natural forest loss in the U.S. southeast is not new, this data is becoming increasingly relevant as governments begin penalizing wood supply chains from countries with high rates of deforestation and forest degradation. For example, starting in 2025, the EU will subject wood products from countries labeled “high-risk” of deforestation and forest degradation to increased checks and due diligence obligations.

U.S. southeast natural forest loss as % of natural forest area exceeds that of Pará, Brazil in 5 states

Five states in the U.S. southeast lost a higher percentage of their natural forest area in 2022 than did the Brazilian state of Pará.

US southeast forest loss - Five states in the U.S. southeast lost more of their natural forest than the Brazilian state of Para.

South Carolina (1.15%), Georgia (1.09%), Alabama (1.05%), Mississippi (0.96%), and North Carolina (0.80%) all lost more of their natural forest area than did Pará (0.77%).

Satellite images of South Carolina (left) and Pará (right) captured in 2023. Data Source: Copernicus

Legal liabilities of forest products companies are becoming dependent on forest cover data

By 2025, the European Commission will decide which countries (or parts thereof) are “high-risk” of deforestation and forest degradation (See: Will the EUDR label US hardwood lumber high-risk?).

This “benchmarking system” will consider criteria including deforestation and forest degradation data. If a country is classified as high-risk, EU member states are to check 9% of the quantity of products imported into the EU versus no requirement for countries classified as low-risk.

Also, buyers buying products from “high-risk” origins will be obligated to not only collect due diligence data on each real estate property from which a product originates, but combine this with a risk analysis, and risk mitigation measures.

For some commodities, like US hardwood lumber, it’s estimated that this could eliminate about 90% of the production from being marketed in the EU as it would simply be unprofitable to meet this obligation. (See: Logs instead of lumber (1): How the EUDR encourages shipping logs instead of lumber)

TimberCheck – Forest product supply chain data for timber due diligence. Contact.

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Footnotes: (1) These statistics were calculated from 2022 Global Forest Watch data. (2) The total natural forest area used by GFW is based on 2010 data. (3) U.S. southeast is defined by the following states: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. (4) The EUDR defines forest degradation as the following: “structural changes to forest cover, taking the form of the conversion of: a) primary forests or naturally regenerating forests into plantation forests or into other wooded land; or (b) primary forests into planted forests.”

Last updated August 12, 2023

3 responses to “U.S. Southeast lost more of its natural forest area than Brazil did in 2022”

  1. […] 2022, the U.S. southeast lost 0.84% of its natural forest area. Brazil lost 0.66% and other “deforestation hotspots”, Indonesia and Cameroon, lost 0.25% and […]

  2. […] lost 0.68% of its natural forest in 2022. While on the lower end of natural forest loss in the U.S. southeast, it’s more than the “deforestation hotspots” of Brazil (0.66%), Cameroon (0.48%), […]

  3. […] 2022, the U.S. Southeast lost a higher percentage of its natural forest area than the deforestation hotspots of Brazil, Cameroon, and Indonesia. In fact, the state of South […]

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