The pace of loss of forests has slowed in recent years even though the world’s forest area decreased from 31% to 30% between 1990 and 2015
40% of the extreme rural poor – around 250 million people – live in forest and savannah area. CRedit: Wikimedia Commons
First the bad news: the world’s forest area decreased from 31.6 per cent of the global land area to 30.6 per cent between 1990 and 2015. The good news is that the pace of the second biggest cause of climate change has slowed down in recent years, according to a recently published report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
State of World’s Forests Report 2018 says that, “There is quantitative evidence to show that forests are being managed more sustainably.”
The report underscores the importance of trees and forests in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as these goals are interlinked and forests play an important role in many of them.
"Trees and forests contribute to achieving multiple targets across the 2030 Agenda and need to be incorporated into strategies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," said FAO Forestry Director Eva Mueller.
The report emphasises the importance of clear legal frameworks regarding forest tenure rights, applauds the growing trend in local governance, and calls for effective partnerships and private sector engagement to pursue sustainable goals. Given that deforestation is the second leading cause of climate change after burning fossil fuels, it notes that "corporate responsibility for zero deforestation is key."
The FAO also recognises the importance of forests for the extreme rural poor.
“Evidence shows that around 40 per cent of the extreme rural poor – around 250 million people – live in forest and savannah areas. Access to forest products, goods and services are vital for the livelihoods and resilience of the poorest households, acting as safety nets in difficult times. Some studies suggest that forests and trees may provide around 20 per cent of income for rural households in developing countries, both through cash income and by meeting subsistence needs,” the report says.
The report also focuses on other ecological services provided by forests like water recharge, carbon sink etc.
"Forests are critical to livelihoods," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. "Healthy and productive forests are essential to sustainable agriculture and we have proof of the significance of forests and trees for the quality of water, for contributing to the energy needs of the future, and for designing sustainable, healthy cities."
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