The world has lost 1/3 of forest area since pre-industrialization


August 31, 2012 World Forest Area Still on the Decline Emily E. Adams

Forests provide many important goods, such as timber and paper. They also supply essential services—for example, they filter water, control water runoff, protect soil, regulate climate, cycle and store nutrients, and provide habitat for countless animal species and space for recreation.

Forests cover 31 percent of the world’s land surface, just over 4 billion hectares. (One hectare = 2.47 acres.) This is down from the pre-industrial area of 5.9 billion hectares. According to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, deforestation was at its highest rate in the 1990s, when each year the world lost on average 16 million hectares of forest—roughly the size of the state of Michigan. At the same time, forest area expanded in some places, either through planting or natural processes, bringing the global net loss of forest to 8.3 million hectares per year. In the first decade of this century, the rate of deforestation was slightly lower, but still, a disturbingly high 13 million hectares were destroyed annually. As forest expansion remained stable, the global net forest loss between 2000 and 2010 was 5.2 million hectares per year. (See data.)

[from 5.9 in pre-industrial to 4 billion today. 5.9-4 -- 1.9 1.9/5.9 = minus 32%; today loss 5.2 million HA/year]

Earth Policy Institute, Emily E. Adams, World Forest Area Still on the Decline, August 31, 2012, Eco Indicators. Accessed January 14, 2014 http://www.earth-policy.org/indicators/C56/forests_2012

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