State of the World's Forests 2020
Urgent action is needed to safeguard the biodiversity of the world’s forests amid alarming rates of deforestation and degradation, according to the latest edition of The State of the World’s Forests released on the International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May). The 188-page report, which summarizes a decade of studies on biodiversity, examines the contributions of forests and of the populations that use and manage them. The report shows that the conservation of the world’s biodiversity is utterly dependent on the way in which we interact with and use the world’s forests. The report was produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership, for the first time, with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and technical input from the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Over the last 30 years at least 420 million hectares of forest have been lost to land-use changes, mostly to agricultural development, or in some cases to wood production. However, the rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years, from around 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 10 million hectares per year over the last five years, but the mostly illegal practices of conversion to agriculture and other land uses or unsustainable levels of exploitation are persisting.
The COVID-19 crisis has thrown into sharp focus the importance of conserving biodiversity and sustainably using nature, recognizing that people’s health is linked to ecosystem health. Although forests occupy less than a third of the world's land, they harbour most of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity. The report shows that forests contain 60,000 different tree species, 80 percent of amphibian species, 75 percent of bird species, 68 percent of mammal species, and around 60 percent of all vascular plant species. The report presents a comprehensive overview of forest biodiversity, including world maps revealing where forests still hold rich communities of fauna and flora, such as the northern Andes and parts of the Congo Basin, and where they have been lost.
With the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration starting in 2021, and as countries consider a Global Biodiversity Framework for the future, there is a need for increased global cooperation to restore degraded and damaged ecosystems, combat climate change and safeguard biodiversity. This will require transformational change in the way in which we produce and consume food, conserving and managing forests and trees within an integrated landscape approach, and repairing the damage done through forest restoration efforts. In this report, a special study found 34.8 million patches of forests in the world, ranging in size from 1 hectare to 680 million hectares. Greater restoration efforts to reconnect forest fragments are urgently needed. The largest increase in protected forest areas occurred in broadleaved evergreen forests – such as those typically found in the tropics. Furthermore, over 30 percent of all tropical rainforests, subtropical dry forests and temperate oceanic forests are now located within protected areas.
Millions of people around the world depend on forests for their food security and livelihoods. Forests provide more than 86 million green jobs. Of those living in extreme poverty, over 90 percent are dependent on forests for wild food, firewood or part of their livelihoods. This number includes eight million extremely poor, forest-dependent people in Latin America alone.
Last updated 9 June 2020