Greatest deforestation by area (country)
24,500,000 hectare(s)
Brazil ()

According to Global Forest Watch (GFW), the country with the greatest tropical primary forest loss since tracking began is Brazil, with a cumulative area of approximately 24.5 million ha (60.5 million acres ) lost between 2002 and 2019. This represents 7.1% of the country’s total primary forest as of 2001. The next greatest loss occurred in Indonesia, which saw a reduction of 9.5 million ha (23.4 million acres ) of primary forest – or 10.1% of its 2001 total – in the same period. The data behind these calculations is collected by the University of Maryland, working with Google.

Fortunately, Indonesia has made progress in reducing forest loss in recent years, with 55% less primary forest loss in the period 2017–19 compared to 2014–16. The same cannot be said in Brazil, where primary forest loss has rebounded after a low period from 2007 to 2015.

In terms of proportional primary forest loss within a country, the leaders are the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Haiti, which lost 43.7% and 32.9%, respectively, of their primary forest coverage between 2002 and 2019. If applying the GFW threshold of a country having a minimum 100,000 ha (247,105 acres) of primary forest at the baseline when looking at deforestation on a global scale, then Paraguay moves to the top of the table, with a decline of 28.7%.

GFW (part of the World Resources Institute) focuses on deforestation in the tropics as the vast majority of tree loss in temperate and boreal regions is periodic – e.g., the result of either cyclical forestry (where trees are replanted) or natural events such as wildfires (where the forest will recover). By contrast, in tropical regions primary forest is more likely to be lost on a permanent basis as a result of conversion to agricultural land.