Our planet lost nearly 10 hectares of forest per minute

A recent FAO study suggests the new figure on deforestation. The study also found that the net loss in forest area between 1990 and 2005 was not as great as previously believed, since gains in forest areas are larger than previously estimated.  The survey was based on a single source of data for all three points in time — 1990, 2000 and 2005.

FAO employed new sattelite based survey to providea more accurate picture of changes in the world’s forests. The main finding of this survey is world’s total forest area in 2005 was 3.69 billion hectares, or 30 percent of the global land area.

Some summarized points:

  • The net loss of forests increased  from 4.1 million hectares per year between 1990 and 2000 to 6.4 million hectares between 2000 and 2005.
  • Between 1990 and 2005 the loss of forests was highest in the tropics; net losses in this region averaged 6.9 million ha/yr
  • Deforestation occurred in all regions, including Asia, but the extensive planting that has been reported by several countries in Asia (mainly China) exceeded the forest areas that were lost
  • The highest rate of conversion of forest land use to other, unspecified, land uses for both periods was in South America, followed by Africa.

More than four years FAO has worked with technical partners in the European Commission Joint Research Centre to implement this survey. There are more than 200 researchers from 102 countries analyzed satellite imagery from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).