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Deforestation decreased but still remains a concern: UN report

Highest net gain of forest area in 2010-2020 was found in Asia
Independent Online/ UNB
Deforestation decreased but still remains a concern: UN report

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday said the rate of loss has declined substantially over the past three decades although some 178 million hectares of forest have been lost worldwide during this period.

The highest net gain of forest area in 2010-2020 was found in Asia.

The finding comes in its latest Global Forest Resources Assessment report (FRA 2020), which aims to turn the tide on deforestation, or the conversion of forest to other uses such as agriculture.

"The wealth of information on the world's forests is a valuable public good for the global community to help facilitate evidence-based policy formulation, decision-making, and sound investments in the forest sector," said Maria Helena Semedo, the FAO Deputy Director-General.

Forest area decreasing

The global total forest area stands at some 4.06 billion hectares but continues to decrease, according to the report.

FAO estimates that deforestation has robbed the world of roughly 420 million hectares since 1990, mainly in Africa and South America, according to FAO and UN News.

The top countries for average annual net losses of forest area over the last 10 years, are Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Angola, Tanzania, Paraguay, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bolivia and Mozambique.

Sustainability at risk

Senior Forestry Officer Anssi Pekkarinen, the report’s Coordinator, warned that global targets related to sustainable forest management are at risk.

“We need to step up efforts to halt deforestation in order to unlock the full potential of forests in contributing to sustainable food production, poverty alleviation, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change while sustaining the production of all the other goods and services they provide”, he said.

However, there is good news as the rate of forest loss has declined substantially over the past three decades.

The annual rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares between 2015-2020, compared with 12 million during 2010-2015.

The area of forest under protection has also reached roughly 726 million hectares: nearly 200 million more than in 1990.

Still, there is cause for great concern, according to FAO.

Forests: for people and the planet

The FRA report has been published every five years since 1990. For the first time ever, it contains an online interactive platform with detailed regional and global analyses for nearly 240 countries and territories.

"These newly released tools will enable us to better respond to deforestation and forest degradation, prevent biodiversity loss and improve sustainable forest management,” said Semedo, the FAO deputy chief.

The UN agency believes forests are at the heart of global efforts to achieve sustainable development that benefits both people and the planet.

Protecting forests is critical as millions worldwide depend on them for their livelihoods or for food.

Forests also contain thousands of different tree, mammal and bird species, among other life forms, and they help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Therefore, information about forests, such as the report, play a vital role in conservation.

The FRA 2020 key findings

The world has a total forest area of 4.06 billion hectares, which is about 31 percent of the total land area.

Europe, including Russian Federation, accounts for 25 percent of the world's forest area, followed by South America (21 percent), North and Central America (19 percent), Africa (16 percent), Asia (15 percent) and Oceania (5 percent).

The global forest area continues to decrease, and the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest since 1990.

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

Africa has the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010-2020, at 3.9 million hectares, followed by South America, at 2.6 million hectares.

Since 1990 an estimated 420 million ha of forest has been lost worldwide through deforestation, conversion of forest to other land use such as agriculture.

However, the rate of forest loss has declined substantially.

In the most recent five-year period (2015-2020), the annual rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares, down from 12 million hectares in 2010-2015 and 16 million hectares in 1990-2000.

The area of forest in protected areas has increased by 191 million ha since 1990, and has now reached an estimated 726 million ha (18 percent of the total forest area of reporting countries).

In addition, the area of forest under management plans is increasing in all regions - globally, it has increased by 233 million ha since 2000, reaching slightly over two billion hectares in 2020.

Top ten countries worldwide for average annual net losses of forest area between 2010 and 2020 are: Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Angola, United Republic of Tanzania, Paraguay, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Mozambique.

The top ten countries for average annual net gains in the forest area in the same period are: China, Australia, India, Chile, Viet Nam, Turkey, United States of America, France, Italy, Romania.

TH

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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