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FAO’s The State of the World’s Forests 2022: 10% of total forest area on Earth lost in 30 years

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State of the World’s Forests 2022

On 2nd May 2022, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released its flagship publication “The State of the World’s Forests (SOFO) 2022: Forest Pathways for Green Recovery and Building Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable economies”. This is part of The State of the World series of the FAO. 

  • The report states that since 1990, around 420 million hectares(Mha) – approximately 10.34%, of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses.
  • The rate of deforestation has decreased over the last 30 years but it was still 10 Mha per year from 2015 to 2020.
  • Forests cover around 31% (4.06 billion ha) of the Earth’s land surface. 

The publication was launched during the XV World Forestry Congress (WFC 2021) being held in Coex, Seoul, the Republic of Korea from 2nd to 6th May 2022. 

  • WFC 2021 is organised by Korea Forest Service(KFS), the Republic of Korea and FAO and it is hosted by KFS. 
  • The theme of WFC 2021 is “Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forests”.

Gist of the report:

i.Forests covers around 31% (4.06 billion ha) of the Earth’s land surface and planted forests cover 294 Mha (7% of global forest area).  Around 47 Mha of primary forests were lost between 2000 and 2020.

ii.More than 700 Mha of forest (18% of total forest area) is in legally established protected areas.

iii.Without proper measures, an estimated 289 Mha of forests in the tropic alone would be deforested between 2016 and 2050, resulting in the emission of 169 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e)

iv.The report states that the world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050. This will increase the competition for land as the demand for food will rise by 35 to 56 % by the 2050s. 

Key Messages of the Report:

The report presents 3 interrelated pathways involving forests and trees that can support economic and environmental recovery. 

  • Halting deforestation and maintaining forests
  • Restoring degraded lands and expanding agroforestry
  • Sustainably using forests and building green value chains.

It also states that it is estimated that restoration of degraded land through afforestation and reforestation could cost-effectively take 0.9 to 1.5 GtCO2e per year out of the atmosphere between 2020 to 2050. 

Around 15% of 250 emerging infectious diseases are linked to forests and around 30% of new diseases reported since 1960 are associated with deforestation and land-use change. 

Additional info:

More than 140 countries have pledged through the  Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, to estimate forest loss by 2030 and to support restoration and sustainable forestry. 

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About Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) :

Director-General– Qu Dongyu
Headquarters– Rome, Italy