Deforestation Rate Decreased in World’s Largest Forests, UN Says

The rate of deforestation in the world’s three largest tropical rainforest regions declined nearly 25 percent during the last decade compared with the net forest loss during the 1990s, according to a new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. In the Amazon basin, the Congo basin, and the forests of Southeast Asia, about 5.4 million hectares of forest were cleared annually between 2000 and 2010, while about 7.1 million hectares were cleared annually during the previous decade, the report said. Nations such as Brazil and Indonesia have achieved significant reductions in forest loss through government reform and increased conservation awareness, said Mette Wilkie, author of the report. But with forest loss continuing at an “alarming” rate in many of the 30 nations within the planet’s rainforest basins, Wilkie warned the report is not cause for complacency. In Indonesia, for instance, forests have been decimated for cultivation of palm oil crops, and an expected 70 percent increase in the demand for food worldwide by 2050 will add an enormous strain on remaining tropical forests. Only 3.5 percent of the forests surveyed are currently under effective forest management, the report noted.