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

What is the News?

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released the State of the World’s Forests 2022 (SOFO 2022).

What are the key highlights from the report?

Loss of Forests: Forests cover 31% of the Earth’s land surface (4.06 billion ha) but the area is shrinking with 420 million ha of forest lost through deforestation between 1990 and 2020. The rate of deforestation is declining but was still 10 million ha per year in 2015–2020.

Infectious Diseases linked to forests: 15% of 250 emerging infectious diseases have been linked to forests. Moreover, 30% of new diseases, reported since 1960 can be attributed to deforestation and land-use change.

Rise in Poverty: Approximately 124 million more people fell into extreme poverty after Covid-19 and this may have longer-term impacts on wood-based fuel (such as firewood, and charcoal) due to the increase in wood-based fuel use in some countries during the pandemic.

Forests are crucial for mitigating climate change: Trees and forests are major means for combating climate change. Forests contain 662 billion tonnes of carbon, which is more than half the global carbon stock in soils and vegetation. Despite a continued reduction in area, forests absorbed more carbon than they emitted in 2011–2020 due to reforestation, improved forest management and other factors.

Consumption of Natural Resources: The world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050. Due to this, the annual global consumption of all-natural resources combined is expected to more than double from 92 billion tonnes in 2017 to 190 billion tonnes in 2060 due to increases in population size and affluence.

Dependence on Forests: It is estimated that more than half of the world’s gross domestic product (USD 84.4 trillion in 2020) depends moderately (USD 31 trillion per year) or highly (USD 13 trillion per year) on ecosystem services, including those provided by forests. 

What are the recommendations given by the report?

Three interrelated pathways involving forests and trees can support economic and environmental recovery. These are (1) halting deforestation and maintaining forests; (2) restoring degraded lands and expanding agroforestry and (3) sustainably using forests and building green value chains.

Increase in Funding: A massive uptick in funding will require, specifically, a three-fold increase by 2030. Establishing and maintaining forests, for example, may cost USD 203 billion every year by 2050.

Supporting local producer organizations and protecting land tenure rights are also crucial for allowing small communities and Indigenous groups to continue sustainably managing their forests.

Source: The post is based on the article “State of the World’s Forests 2022: 10% of total forest area on Earth lost in 30 years” published in Down To Earth on 2nd May 2022. 

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