FAO Publishes its Latest Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA 2010) and Calls for Early Action on REDD+
For analysis of some of the FRA 2010’s key findings, read UN-REDD Regional Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, Petteri Vuorinen’s article in the Features & Commentary section.
Forest cleared for hillside rice cultivation
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released the global and regional key findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 (FRA 2010) on 25 March, 2010. A key message from FRA 2010 is that world deforestation, mainly the conversion of tropical forests to agricultural land, has decreased over the past ten years but it continues at an alarmingly high rate in many countries.
Globally, around 13 million hectares of forests were converted to other uses or lost through natural causes each year between 2000 and 2010 as compared to around 16 million hectares per year during the 1990s. Brazil and Indonesia, which had the highest loss of forests in the 1990s, are among those countries which have significantly reduced their deforestation rates.
In addition, ambitious tree planting programmes in countries such as China, India, the United States and Viet Nam - combined with natural expansion of forests in some regions - have added more than seven million hectares of new forests annually, thereby reducing the net loss of forest area to 5.2 million hectares per year in between 2000 and 2010, down from 8.3 million hectares annually in the 1990s.
China has a national goal of increasing the forest area to 23% of the total land area by 2020, India aims to increase its forest area to 33% of the land area by 2012 and Viet Nam has a forest goal of 43% by 2010. Together, these three countries have been increasing their forest area by an average of 3.5 million hectares per year in the last ten years.
“A lower deforestation rate and the establishment of new forests have helped bring down the high level of carbon emissions from forests caused by deforestation and forest degradation”, said Mette Løyche Wilkie, the Coordinator of the Assessment.
“But we need to look forward because the large tree planting programmes in China, India and Viet Nam, accounting for most of the recent gains in forest area, are scheduled to end by 2020,” she stressed. “That means we have a short window of opportunity to put in place effective and permanent measures to significantly reduce the current rates of deforestation and forest degradation. Without such interventions we risk a sudden return to the high rates of net forest loss and of carbon emissions from forests, which we had in the 1990s.”
“The recent discussions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to establish a mechanism to reward countries that reduce their carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – the so-called REDD+ mechanism - will, hopefully, help implement such measures,” she concluded.