UN-FAO’s State of the world’s forests report

The world has lost more than 70 million hectares of forests between
1990 and 2005, the UN said in a report. The State of the World’s
Forests report released Monday by the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation said most of the deforestation has taken place in South
America, Africa and the Caribbean.

The global organisation said the pace of deforestation in the developing countries is unlikely to decline in the near future as high food and fuel prices would favour continued forest clearance. Between 1990 and 2005 Latin America lost 64 million hectares of forests, some seven percent of the world’s total, the report said. “In Africa, forest loss is likely to continue at current rates,” the report said.

The recurrent droughts, floods and the declining water supplies will undermine the afforestation work in Africa, which lost eight million hectares of forest land from 1990 to 2005, the report said.

“In Asia and the Pacific, home to more than half of the world’s population with some of the most densely populated countries in the world, demand for wood and wood products is expected to continue to increase in line with the growth in population and income,” the report said.

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The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched the State
of the World’s Forests 2009. The report was released on the first day
of the 19th session of the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO), which is
taking place from 16-20 March 2009, in Rome, Italy. The report notes
that the economic crisis and climate change raise the profile of
forest management on the global agenda, as demand for products and
environmental services is expected to increase in the coming decades.

It further finds that energy and climate change policies are
increasing the use of wood as a source of energy, although this trend
may be affected by the recent economic turmoil, which may lead some
governments to dilute previously ambitious green goals or defer policy
decisions related to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

However, the report highlights that the crisis also provides
opportunities, as attention increases on “green development,”
including planting trees, increasing investments in sustainable forest
management, and promoting wood in green building practices and
renewable energy. The report also underscores the need to reform
forestry institutions and increase investments in science and
technology to improve forest management.

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