Africa has lost the largest amount of forest cover globally in the last decade - 3.9 million hectares - a new survey shows.
According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020), South America comes second having lost 2.6 million hectares (ha) of forest cover.
The survey examines the status of more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories worldwide in a period of 30 years, from 1990 to 2020.
The study was commissioned by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). It also asserts that the rate of net forest loss has increased in Africa in each of the three decades since 1990. However, it has declined substantially in South America to about half the rate experienced in 2010–2020 compared to 2000–2010.
Asia had the highest net gain of forest cover in 2010–2020, followed by Oceania and Europe.
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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.
According to the research, the world has a total forest cover of 4.06 billion hectares, which is 31 percent of the total land area.
The forests are however not distributed equally among the world’s peoples. The tropical domain has the largest proportion of the world’s forests (45 per cent), followed by the boreal, temperate and subtropical domains.
More than half (54 per cent) of the world’s forests are in only five countries – Russian, Brazil, Canada, the US and China. The report says the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest cover since 1990; an area about the size of Libya.
“The rate of net forest loss decreased substantially between 1990–2020 due to a reduction in deforestation in some countries, and increases in forest cover in others due to afforestation and natural expansion of forests,” the report reads.