FAO: World's Forests Faring Better
The bottom line from the Food and Agriculture Organization's 2015 assessment of global forest resources: The state of the world's forests is better than it was.
The U.N. agency released the report this week ahead of the 14th World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa.
FAO Senior Forestry Officer Kenneth MacDicken is among those monitoring how the forests are faring.
“What we’ve seen is a continued forest loss in the tropics, not surprisingly," he says. "But the good news is that it’s happening at a rate that is half of what it was in the 1990s. So, the deforestation rate is slowing."
Forests are still being cut down to make room for agriculture, the FAO said. But the process is slowing.
Dynamics 'are improving'
"Overall, the forest area dynamics, you can say, are improving," MacDicken said.
He said more countries are sustainably managing their forests. As of 2014, 112 countries had national forest inventories.
The FAO report said, “Countries have more knowledge of their forest resources than ever before.”
However, between 1990 and 2015, there was a net loss of 129 million hectares of forest. That’s an area about the size of South Africa. The biggest forest loss occurred in Africa and South America.
The report said “challenges remain" and warned, “the existence of sound policies, legislation and regulation is not always coupled with effective incentives or enforcement … and that unsustainable forest practices and forest conversion to farmland clearly persist.”
The United Nations opens a summit September 25th to adopt 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals, intended to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals. Sustainable management of forests is expected to be included.