The 2010s opened as a moment of optimism for tropical forests. The world looked like it was on track to significantly reduce tropical deforestation by 2020.By the end of the 2019 however, it was clear that progress on protecting tropical forests stalled in the 2010s. The decade closed with rising deforestation and increased incidence of fire in tropical forests.According to the U.N., in 2015 global forest cover fell below four billion hectares of forest for the first time in human history. The 2010s opened as a moment of optimism for tropical forests. Widely available satellite imagery via platforms like Google Earth brought new levels of accountability which, for the first time, meant the world couldn’t use ignorance as an excuse for not addressing the destruction of tropical forests. Deforestation in Earth’s largest rainforest — the Brazilian Amazon — was in the midst of a historic plunge, while governments around the world were pledging billions of dollars in new money toward a mechanism to compensate tropical countries for protecting their forests. Several countries closed out the decade with important new conservation initiatives, while activists, empowered with a new set of tools, pushed the private sector to begin adopting a new type of sustainability commitment: the zero deforestation policy for commodity production and sourcing. Some of the largest consumer-facing companies adopted these forest-friendly policies with near-term implementation targets. The world looked like it was on track to significantly reduce tropical deforestation by 2020. By the end of the 2019, however, it was clear that progress on protecting tropical forests stalled in the 2010s. On the climate front, a decade of science has mostly confirmed what we already knew 10 years ago: Tropical forests are deeply threatened by the current pace of climate change. Combined with ongoing deforestation, degradation, and fragmentation, the outlook for some of the planet’s largest forests, from the Amazon to Indonesia, is increasingly bleak. The 2010s were also marked by mixed progress for tropical forest conservation. Advances in remote sensing were undercut by backsliding on corporate and government commitments to protect forests. Gains in new protected areas were partially offset by a trend toward protected area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement (PADDD) in countries from Brazil to Indonesia. Efforts to recognize the value of healthy and productive natural forests were confronted with the challenging realities of implementation, public indifference and the punishing economics of rising demand for food, fiber and fuel in the context of unaccounted costs of environmental externalities. Political leaders in several important tropical forest countries turned a blind eye to — or in some cases even actively encouraged — threats against environmental defenders and the free press, contributing to hundreds of murders and assassinations of activists, indigenous leaders and journalists. The 2010s closed with rising deforestation and increased incidence of fire in tropical forests. According to the U.N., in 2015, global forest cover fell below four billion hectares (10 billion acres) for the first time in modern human history.