Key facts about Forests

Forest cover1

  • The total forest area of the world is about 4 billion hectares, which represents nearly 30 percent of the Earth’s landmass. Approximately 56 percent of these forests are located in tropical and subtropical areas.
  • Forest cover is unevenly distributed. Only seven countries possess about 60 percent of it, 25 countries around 82 percent and 170 countries share the remaining 18 percent.
  • Planted forests account for approximately 3.8 percent of total forest area, or 140 million hectares.

Forest loss2

  • Net global forest loss is estimated to be about 7.3 million hectares per year for the period 2000-2005.
  • This represents a decrease from the period 1990–2000, for which the average deforestation rate was 8.9 million hectares per year.
  • The highest amounts of deforestation occurred in South America, with 4.3 million hectares per year, followed by Africa with 4 million hectares per year.

Forests and livelihoods

  • More than 1 billion people rely heavily on forests for their livelihoods.3
  • More than 2 billion people, a third of the world’s population, use biomass fuels, mainly firewood, to cook and to heat their homes.
  • Hundreds of millions of people rely on traditional medicines harvested from forests.4
  • In some 60 developing countries, hunting and fishing on forested land supplies more than a fifth of protein requirements.5

Forests and the economy6

  • In 2003, the international trade in sawn wood, pulp, paper and boards amounted to almost US $150 billion, or just over 2 percent of world trade.
  • The developed world accounted for two-thirds of this production and consumption.
  • In many developing countries, forest-based enterprises provide at least one-third of all rural non-farm employment and generate income through the sale of wood products.
  • The value of the trade in non-timber forest products has been estimated at US $11 billion. These products include pharmaceutical plants, mushrooms, nuts, syrups and cork.

Forests and climate change7

  • It is estimated that 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon are released annually due to land use change. The major portion is from tropical deforestation.
  • This represents about 20 percent of current global carbon emissions, which is greater than the percentage emitted by the global transport sector with its intensive use of fossil fuels.

Sources:

[1] Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) 2007. State of the World’s Forests 2007, FAO, Rome.
[2] FAO 2009. State of the World’s Forests 2009, FAO, Rome.
[3] World Bank 2004. Sustaining Forests: A Development Strategy, Washington.
[4] UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2009. Indicators of Sustainable Development (1 June 2009).
[5] Mery, G., Alfaro, R., Kanninen, M. and Lobovikov, M. (eds.) 2005. Forests in the Global Balance: Changing Paradigms,
IUFRO World Series 17. International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO), Helsinki.
[6] World Bank 2004. Sustaining Forests: A Development Strategy, Washington D.C.
[7] IPCC 2007. Summary for Policymakers In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Sciences Basis (1 June 2009).

http://www.cifor.org/mediamultimedia/newsroom/key-facts-about-forests.html

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