UN report finds deforestation slowing, but not fast enough for forest communities or the climate

epa00182685 A small village where rice and opium farmers live is seen behind a large hill which has been cleared of timber by slash and burn methods ready for agriculture, in north-eastern Myanmar (Burma), close to the Chinese border, Monday 26 April 2004. Unchecked logging fuelled by the huge growth in the Chinese economy has taken its toll on the area. Deforestation is acute in Myanmar as a consequence of timber exploitation and poor agricultural methods and it is one of the least environmentally protected countries in South East Asia. Myanmar supplies 60 per cent of the world's teak wood consumption, and derives nearly 10 percent of it's foreign income from timber exports. EPA/BARBARA WALTON

FAO has released the 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA2015) at the XIV World Forestry Congress. Updated every five years, the report shows how forests have changed over the last 25 years, the state of sustainable forest management, and other trends. This is a statement from Rod Taylor, Director, WWF Global Forest Programme, reacting to the report.

“FRA2015 confirms the huge loss of tropical forests over the last 25 years. WWF’s analysis shows that this trend will continue with future losses concentrated in 11 ‘deforestation fronts’, unless bold and urgent action is taken to address the drivers of deforestation. Without such action, up to 170 million hectares – the size of Germany, France, Spain and Portugal combined – will be wiped out in just 20 years.

There’s no silver bullet to halt forest loss and degradation. A suite of solutions – ranging from expanded protected areas to more sustainable consumption patterns – are needed to ensure that forests survive the ‘land squeeze’ creating by the rush to supply humanity’s growing demand for food, energy and materials.

For example, WWF’s analysis shows that the amount of wood we take from forests and plantations each year may need to triple by 2050. According to FRA2015, plantations are expanding and supplying an increasing proportion of the world’s wood. In the right place and managed sustainably, tree plantations can reduce the pressure to bring natural forest areas into production. There is also potential to regain lost forest cover through mosaics of new plantations, natural forest restoration and responsible farming. Expansion of plantations should be focused on degraded land, while safeguarding the rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities.

We call on world forestry leaders to join WWF’s Forests for Life campaign at the World Forestry Congress and back innovative solutions to tackle deforestation and forest degradation. We all know that no one organization can tackle the momentous task of forest conservation alone. Let’s join together to ensure that we sustain forests for life.”

Blogpost by WWF
Photo Courtesy jidanchaomian

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