Deforestation continues, but at a lower rate: Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020

Since 1946, FAO has been monitoring
the world’s forest resources through periodic assessments conducted
in cooperation with its member countries. Recently published the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) which is the latest of these assessments, examines the status of, and trends in, more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period 1990–2020.

According to the report, the world has a total forest area of 4.06 billion hectares (ha), which is 31 percent of the total land area. This area is equivalent to 0.52 ha per person– although forests are not distributed equally among the world’s peoples or geographically. The tropical domain has the largest proportion of the world’s forests (45 percent), followed by the boreal, temperate and subtropical domains.

More than half (54 percent) of the world’s forests is in only five countries – the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America
and China.

The world has lost 178 million ha of forest since 1990, which is an area about the size of Libya.

The rate of net forest loss declined from 7.8 million ha per year in the
decade 1990–2000 to 5.2 million ha per year in 2000–2010 and 4.7 million ha per year in 2010–2020. The rate of decline of net forest loss slowed in the most recent decade due to a reduction in the rate of forest expansion.

Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010–2020, at 3.9 million ha, followed by South America, at 2.6 million ha. The rate of net forest loss has increased in Africa in each of the three decades since 1990. It has declined substantially in South America, however, to about half the rate in 2010–2020 compared with 2000–2010.

Asia had the highest net gain of forest area in 2010–2020, followed by Oceania and Europe.Nevertheless, both Europe and Asia recorded substantially lower rates of net gain in 2010–2020 than in 2000–2010. Oceania experienced net losses of forest area in the decades 1990–2000 and 2000–2010.

An estimated 420 million ha of forest has been lost worldwide through deforestation since 1990, but the rate of forest loss has declined substantially.
In the most recent five-year period (2015–2020), the annual rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million ha, down from 12 million ha in 2010–2015.

Ninety-three percent (3.75 billion ha) of the forest area worldwide is composed of naturally regenerating forests and 7 percent (290 million ha) is planted.

The area of naturally regenerating forests has decreased since 1990
(at a declining rate of loss), but the area of planted forests has increased by 123 million ha. The rate of increase in the area of planted forest has slowed in the last ten years.

Plantation forests cover about 131 million ha, which is 3 percent of the global forest area and 45 percent of the total area of planted forests.

The highest share of plantation forest is in South America, where this forest type represents 99 percent of the total planted-forest area and 2 percent of the total forest area.

The lowest share of plantation forest is in Europe, where it represents 6 percent of the planted forest estate and 0.4 percent of the total forest area.

There is an estimated 726 million ha of forest in protected areas worldwide.
The area of forest in protected areas globally has increased by 191 million ha since 1990, but the rate of annual increase slowed in 2010–2020.

Forests face many disturbances that can adversely affect their health and vitality and reduce their ability to provide a full range of goods and ecosystem services. About 98 million ha of forest were affected by fire in 2015;this was mainly in the tropical domain, where fire burned about 4 percent of the total forest area in that year. More than two-thirds of the total forest area affected was in Africa and South America. Insects, diseases and severe weather events damaged about 40 million ha of forests in 2015, mainly in the temperate and boreal domains.

Globally, about 1.15 billion ha of forest is managed primarily for the production of wood and non-wood forest products. In addition, 749 million ha is designated for multiple use, which often includes production.

Worldwide, the area of forest designated primarily for production has been relatively stable since 1990 but the area of multiple-use forest has decreased by about 71 million ha.

The full report of FRA 2020, including an in-depth analysis and individual reports from the 236 countries and territories covered by the assessment, will be published in June 2020. The complete FRA 2020 database and the 236 individual reports will be available online from mid-2020.
 Visit download the publication of Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) at