The FAO have released their latest Global Forest Resource Assessment, examining status and trends in forest-related variables across the world.
Home to 80 percent of life on earth and covering 31 percent of total land area, forests’ 4.06 billion hectares of land have an incredible importance to the planet. Forests play a vital role in carbon storage and sequestration, food, and resource security, for biodiversity, livelihoods, and the climate.
“Forests are at the heart of the 2030 agenda”, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of FAO.
Each second the world loses more than one football pitch worth of tropical forest area, either destroyed or drastically degraded (IUCN). Globally, forests absorb 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, around a third of the annual CO2 released from burning fossil fuels. Forests and nature-based solutions have a crucial role to play in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts, as well as regaining the benefits of forests; socially, economically, climatically, and ecologically.
“We need to step up efforts to halt deforestation in order to unlock the full potential of forests”, Anssi Pekkarinen, Senior Forestry Officer of FAO.
Today (21st July 2020) the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) release their latest FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA), which “examines the status of, and trends in, more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period 1990-2020. These resources including the key findings report, main and country reports and FRA online platform can be accessed here. Data collection and reporting under the FRA contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular to goal 15, Life on Land – indicator 15.1.1. forest area as a proportion of total land area and indicator 15.2.1 progress towards sustainable forest management.
The main report concludes a series of key ‘Take-home messages’:
- The global forest area continues to shrink – By an average of 4.7 million ha per year.
- Halting deforestation remains a challenge. Although lower than in the past, deforestation continues.
- The deforestation hotspot is now in Africa. Over 90% of deforestation takes place in the tropics. Studies suggest that in tropical (and sub-tropical) countries, agricultural expansion accounts for 73% of deforestation.
- Deforestation has halved in Asia and South America.
- Forest management is moving towards sustainability. Long-term management plans exist for more than half the global forest area, Africa and South America are areas of concern.
- Production is still an important forest management objective.
- Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 (to protect at least 17 percent of the terrestrial area by 2020) has been exceeded for forest ecosystems as a whole.
- Urgent action is needed to strengthen the positive trend of declining deforestation.
- Global forest monitoring capacity is greater than ever.
The FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) Action Plan, is the EU’s response to combat illegal logging, subsequent trade and deforestation. In return for aid, countries with tropical forests are overhauling their legal and regulatory governance frameworks to introduce forest monitoring, auditing, multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement with local communities.
The Timber Trade Federation’s Conversations about Climate Change design competition, is demonstrating that “timber harvesting from sustainable forest management sources will actually keep the forests standing – providing governance and legal reforms are in place. We can support this by keeping trade alive and money flowing back to those making the positive changes”, David Hopkins CEO of the Timber Trade Federation. Competition designs will be fabricated from tropical hardwood timber, responsibly sourced through Timber Trade Federation members’ and verified from countries working towards FLEGT-licensing.
Overall, the FRA portrays the complex nature that accompanies tackling deforestation, forestry issues and climate action, and the longevity behind all processes which feed into positive change. But change is happening. This may be slow, and halting deforestation still remains one of the world’s biggest environmental problems but improvements are being made – from increased sustainable forest management, land and forest area under monitoring and management and increased global awareness of the role that forests will play in the climate emergency. We should take the positives where we can, and harvest them to spur on motivation and action for the future of our planet.
The full report and documents by the FAO can be found here.
For more information, visit ttf.co.uk