|FAO releases latest findings of world forest changes using satellite technology|
|Wednesday, 04 January 2012|
A new, satellite-based survey released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provides a more accurate picture of changes in the world's forests, showing forest land use declined between 1990 and 2005.
The findings of a global remote sensing survey show the world's total forest area in 2005 was 3.69 billion hectares, or 30 percent of the global land area.
ESSC's geomatics unit contributed to this activity through the participation of Jose Andres Ignacio and Emmanuel Sambale as national experts in two validation activities for the Philippine forest cover.
The new findings suggest that the rate of world deforestation averaged 14.5 million hectares per year between 1990 and 2005, which is consistent with previous estimates. Deforestation largely occurred in the tropics, likely attributable to the conversion of tropical forests to agricultural land.
On the other hand, the survey shows that worldwide, the net loss in forest area between 1990 and 2005 was not as great as previously believed, since gains in forest areas are larger than previously estimated.
Net loss - in which losses of forest cover are partially offset by afforestation or natural expansion - totalled 72.9 million hectares, or 32 percent less than the previous figure of 107.4 million hectares, according to the survey. In other words, the planet lost an average of 4.9 million hectares of forest per year, or nearly 10 hectares of forest per minute over the 15-year period.
The new data also show that the net loss of forests increased from 4.1 million hectares per year between 1990 and 2000 to 6.4 million hectares between 2000 and 2005.
The figures are based on the most comprehensive use yet of high-resolution satellite data to provide a sample of forests worldwide. They differ from previous FAO findings in the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 (FRA 2010), which were based on a compilation of country reports that used a wide variety of sources.
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