New FAO Study Shows Accurate Images Of Forest Loss
A new, satellite-based survey released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provides a more accurate picture of changes in the world’s forests, showing forest land use declined between 1990 and 2005.The report comes at a time when the ongoing UNFCCC climate summit (COP17) is slated to discuss several forest-related issues including Redusing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD).
The findings of a global remote sensing survey show the world’s total forest area in 2005 was 3.69 billion hectares, or 30 percent of the global land area.
The new findings suggest that the rate of world deforestation, mainly the conversion of tropical forests to agricultural land, averaged 14.5 million hectares per year between 1990 and 2005, which is consistent with previous estimates.
On the other hand, the survey shows that worldwide, the net loss in forest area between 1990 and 2005 was not as great as previously believed, since gains in forest areas are larger than previously estimated.
Asia was the only region to show net gains in forest land-use area in both periods. Deforestation occurred in all regions, including Asia, but the extensive planting that has been reported by several countries in Asia (mainly India and China) exceeded the forest areas that were lost.
Net loss - in which losses of forest cover are partially offset by afforestation or natural expansion - totalled 72.9 million hectares, or 32 percent less than the previous figure of 107.4 million hectares, according to the survey. In other words, the globe lost an average of 4.9 million hectares of forest per year, or nearly 10 hectares of forest per minute over the 15-year period.
The new data also show that the net loss of forests accelerated, increasing from 4.1 million hectares per year between 1990 and 2000 to 6.4 million hectares between 2000 and 2005.
The figures are based on the most comprehensive use yet of high-resolution satellite data to provide a sample of forests worldwide. They differ from previous FAO findings in the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 (FRA 2010), which were based on a compilation of country reports that used a wide variety of sources.
“Deforestation is depriving millions of people of forest goods and services that are crucial to food security, economic well-being and environmental health,” said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry.
“The new, satellite-based figures give us a more consistent, global picture, over time, of the world’s forests. Together with the broad range of information supplied by the country reports, they offer decision-makers at every level more accurate information, and underscore the need for countries and organizations to urgently address and halt the loss of valuable forest ecosystems,” Rojas-Briales added.
Tags: FAO , COP17 , Deforestation , Aforestation , Forest Degradation , Carbon Emission. , Forest
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.