Forests

Deforestation rate globally declined between 2015 and 2020: FAO report

While the world lost 178 million hectares of forest in the last 30 years, the rate of net forest loss declined

 
By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 13 May 2020
A boreal forest or taiga. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

While forest area has declined all across the world in the past three decades, the rate of forest loss has declined due to the growth of sustainable management.

The rate of forest loss in 2015-2020 declined to an estimated 10 million hectares (mha), down from 12 million hectares (mha) in 2010-2015, according to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020).

The FRA 2020 was released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on May 13, 2020.

The FRA 2020 has examined the status of, and trends in, more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period 1990–2020.

The world lost 178 mha of forest since 1990, an area the size of Libya, according to the report.

However, the rate of net forest loss decreased substantially during 1990–2020 due to a reduction in deforestation in some countries, plus increases in forest area in others through afforestation and the natural expansion of forests, it added.

The rate of net forest loss declined from 7.8 mha per year in the decade 1990–2000 to 5.2 mha per year in 2000–2010 and 4.7 mha per year in 2010–2020.

Among the world’s regions, Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010–2020, at 3.9 mha, followed by South America, at 2.6 mha.

On the other hand, Asia had the highest net gain of forest area in 2010–2020, followed by Oceania and Europe.

However, both Europe and Asia recorded substantially lower rates of net gain in 2010–2020 than in 2000–2010.

Oceania experienced net losses of forest area in the decades 1990–2000 and 2000–2010.

The world’s total forest area was 4.06 billion hectares (bha), which was 31 per cent of the total land area. This area was equivalent to 0.52 ha per person, the report noted.

The largest proportion of the world’s forests were tropical (45 per cent), followed by boreal, temperate and subtropical.

More than 54 per cent of the world’s forests were in only five countries — the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China.

The area of naturally regenerating forests worldwide decreased since 1990, but the area of planted forests increased by 123 mha. The rate of increase in the area of planted forest slowed in the last ten years.

Plantation forests cover about 131 mha — three per cent of the global forest area and 45 per cent of the total area of planted forests, the report said. 

The highest per cent of plantation forests were in South America while the lowest were in Europe.

There are an estimated 726 mha of forests in protected areas worldwide. South America had the highest share of forests in protected areas, at 31 per cent.

The area of forest in protected areas globally increased by 191 mha since 1990, but the rate of annual increase slowed in 2010–2020.

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