Friday, 26 March 2010

Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010, which surveyed 233 countries, stated yesterday (25th March)that the global rate of deforestation has slowed down over the past decade, from 16 million hectares per annum in the 1990s to 13 million hectares per annum in the 2000s. Natural forest progression and afforestation programmes (mostly in China, India, Vietnam, and the US) have resulted in an addition of more hectares of new forests per annum (Asia had a net gain of 2.2 million ha per annum in the 2000s). Two countries which had the highest deforestation rates in the 1990s, Brazil and Indonesia, have significantly reduced this in the 2000s: from 2.9 million ha p.a to 2.6 million ha p.a in Brazil and from 1.9 million ha to .5 million ha in Indonesia). North and Central America had stable rates, whilst Europe had a slower rate of forest expansion than before. Yet, forested areas around the size of Costa Rica is being destroyed each year, mainly due to clearing lands for agriculture and natural causes. The highest net annual forests loss were in South America (4 million ha) and Africa (3.4 million ha). Primary forests (36% of total forested area) have decreased by more than 40 million ha since 2000. I have referred to some aspects of deforestation in Our Gossamer Planet, but I would like to point out the one great benefit of the forests (currently over four billion hectares)- they act as carbon sinks- absorbing and storing greenhouse gases. There’s more in ‘Biodiversity in India’ in The Ship 09/10, published by St Anne's College, Oxford. The Assessment’s findings are seminal, with 2010 being the UN-designated International Year of Biodiversity. Yet, the aim should be to reduce global annual deforestation rates to the proportions of a school’s playground, or perhaps even less!

1 comment:

David said...

Seeing the numbers really brings home the huge areas involves, especially in Brazil. That's an area the size of Kent destroyed every 7 weeks, time and time again.


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