the Global Forest Resources Assessment Remote Sensing Survey cautioned, however, that from cattle grazing in South America to cropland expansion in Asia, the planet’s tropical rainforests still face a huge threat.
“This survey is important, not just for the new numbers it gives us, but for what it tells us about trends in forest area and causes of deforestationas well as the crucial ability it gives us to keep up with developments,” said CAM Deputy General Manager, Maria Helena Semedo.
Losses cut in half
Annual deforestation decreased by around 29%, from 11 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2010 to 7.8 million hectares between 2010 and 2018, the survey found.
Besides, net forest area losses more than halved during the investigation period – from 6.8 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2010 to 3.1 million hectares per year from 2010 to 2018.
By region, the highest level of deforestation between 2000 and 2018 occurred in South America (68 million hectares deforested), followed by Africa (49 million hectares).
This despite a slower rate of deforestation in South America and South and Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2018.
“Unsustainable agricultural development and other land uses continue to put intense pressure on our forests, especially in many of the poorest countries“said Ms. Semedo.
Between 2000 and 2018, tropical forest losses accounted for more than 90% of global deforestation.
And although that equates to 157 million hectares – roughly the size of Western Europe – annual deforestation in the tropics has slowed dramatically, from 10.1 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2010 to seven million hectares per year between 2010 and 2018.
“There are win-win solutions that we can and must scale up to feed the world without destroying our forests,” the FAO official said.
The expansion of cropland is the main driver of deforestationresponsible for nearly half of global deforestation, followed by livestock grazing, accounting for 38.5%.
From 2000 to 2018, palm oil plantations alone accounted for 7% of global deforestation.
While the survey suggests that the Central American tropics are most at risk from land use conversion, similar phenomena have been detected in the tropical dry forest and shrublands of the region.
However, the small number of samples in these ecoregions means that further research is needed to confirm these results.
Tap the solutions in nature
The XV World Forestry Congress (WFC) opened Monday in Seoul, Korea, as well as online.
Kicking off the event, Ms. Semedo mentioned that “whatever crises we face – a pandemic, conflicts, climate change – and [their] the resulting economic recession and food insecurity, we must see our forests and natural resources as part of the solution and integrate them into recovery plans and strategies.
theCollaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF)states that protecting forests helps fight climate change, enhance food security, conserve biodiversity and boost efforts to create a world without poverty.
State of the forests
Under the main theme Building a green, healthy and resilient future with forestsleaders from the FAO, the World Bank and youth and indigenous representatives participated in the discussions
The report highlighted the three mutually reinforcing paths to stopping deforestation and sustaining forests; restore degraded lands and expand reforestation; and ensure sustainable value chains.
Other key findings include the need to enshrine land rights; provide incentives and remove barriers to forest conservation; and the urgency of addressing the conflict between forest conservation and other development needs.