Tropical forests are one of the most lauded ecosystems on Earth. They harbor at least two-thirds of global biodiversity and can absorb billions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere. But there’s one important ecosystem service that we don’t recognize: forests cool the surrounding landscape, and by doing so they protect the health of people living alongside them.
Cut down the trees, and it will cost human lives.
Researchers estimate that heat increases caused by deforestation are killing more than 100 people per year in Berau, Indonesia. This study, published recently in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, is the first to estimate the effects of deforestation-induced heat on mortality and work conditions in a low-latitude, industrializing country.