The Atlantic Forest of South America—one of the most endangered rainforests in the world—is finally gaining more protection. Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay announced a joint plan at the World Forest Congress to create protected zones in the forest as part of an effort to stop deforestation by 2020. The three governments are hoping to achieve “net zero deforestation”, which means the total amount of forest land will be stable by that year.


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“We plan to maintain over 1 million hectares (3,860 square miles) of forest intact, which will protect the areas from being cleared for farming or any other industrial purposes,” stated Gov. Maurice Closs of the Argentine province of Misiones.

According to the Conservation Society and WWF, deforestation is responsible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. While at the congress, the WWF also pushed nations to commit to “net zero” programs in order to reduce those emissions and fight against climate change.

International Forest Director for the WWF, Rodney Taylor claims “the most immediate way to prevent climate change is to stop deforestation.” He also says that every minute, the equivalent of 36 football fields of trees are cleared away around the world.

The Atlantic Forest is home to a number of endangered species, including marmosets, lion tamarins, and others. It’s also home of the famous Iguazu Falls, located on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Unfortunately, there is only 7% left of the original forest, which covered 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers); and of course, all of the land has disappeared due to deforestation.