According to Satelligence, whose aim is to help combat deforestation via satellite monitoring, deforestation rates in Malaysia have significantly declined in 2020, despite fears of the impact of COVID-19.

What is Happening?

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Vassilis Prymidis, a data scientist at Satelligence, says, “We want to emphasise that satellite monitoring is able to capture trends, such as the impact of COVID, and the underlying incidents in real-time. This information can then be passed along to those in business and government who can take action.”

He continues, “Our original prediction for 2020 was a continuation of the downward trend in deforestation of about -10% per year for Sabah, Malaysia, however, this was disrupted most probably due to the far-reaching effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual decrease was much more than expected, at around -40%, so our updated model predicts a smaller decrease in deforestation for 2021, to compensate for that. Our updated model predicts a change of +12% primary forest loss in Sabah for 2021. What this number means is that, if the trends from recent years hold and we allow business as usual deforestation and forest degradation to resume, we may see an increase in forest loss for 2021 compared to 2020.”

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