FAO’s Remote Sensing Updates Picture of Forest Loss

FAO30 November 2011: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released initial results from a satellite-based remote sensing survey, showing new information on forest area declines between 1990 and 2005. Among the findings, the data show that net forest loss was not as great as previously believed. The new data, contained in a report titled "Global forest land-use change from 1990-2005: Initial results from a global remote sensing survey," published in cooperation with the EC's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and other partners, show that net forest loss increased from 4.1 million hectares per year between 1990 and 2000 to 6.4 million hectares between 2000 and 2005. However, in updating forest information for Africa, where previous data for some countries was old or of low quality, the results show a much smaller rate of forest loss than previously estimated based on national reports. The highest forest loss occurred in the tropics between 1990 and 2005, with net losses particularly high in South America and Africa, while extensive planting offset deforestation losses in Asia.

The new results can be important for national and international reporting processes for, inter alia, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, as well as conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks). [FAO Media Release] [Publication: Global Forest Land-Use Change from 1990 to 2005]