The State of the World’s Forests 2020 (2023)

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The State of the World’s Forests 2020 (2)

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What is forest biological diversity?

Forest biological diversity refers to all life forms found within forested areas and the ecological roles they perform.

It encompasses not just trees, but the multitude of plants, animals and microorganisms that inhabit forest areas - and their associated genetic diversity.

Forest biological diversity can be considered at different levels, including ecosystem, landscape, species, population and genetic.

Complex interactions can occur within and between these levels. This complexity allows organisms to adapt to continually changing environmental conditions and to maintain ecosystem functions.

Forest ecosystems are a critical component of the world’s biodiversity as many forests are more biodiverse than other ecosystems.

Forests cover 31 percent of the global land area. Approximately half the forest area is relatively intact, and more than one-third is primary forest (i.e. naturally regenerated forests of native species, where there are no visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed).

(Video) Forests for Nature: The State of the World’s Forests 2020

The total forest area is 4.06 billion hectares, or approximately 5 000m2 (or 50 x 100m) per person, but forests are not equally distributed around the globe.

More than half of the world’s forests are found in only five countries (the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China) and two-thirds (66 percent) of forests are found in ten countries.

linkFIGURE 1

Global distribution of forests showing the ten countries with the largest forest area, 2020 (million hectares and % of world’s forest)

Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity.

Since 1990, it is estimated that 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses, although the rate of deforestation has decreased over the past three decades.

Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year, down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s. The area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990.

Agricultural expansion continues to be the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation and the associated loss of forest biodiversity. Large-scale commercial agriculture (primarily cattle ranching and cultivation of soya bean and oil palm) accounted for 40 percent of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010, and local subsistence agriculture for another 33 percent.

It is not only the trees that make a forest, but the many different species of plants and animals that reside in the soil, understorey and canopy. Estimates of the total number of species on Earth range from 3 million to 100 million (May, 2010).

Although it is widely reported that forests harbour 80 percent of terrestrial plants and animals, such a precise estimate is unlikely to be accurate given the changing state of knowledge of planetary biodiversity.

While trees are the defining component of forests and their diversity can give an indication of overall diversity, there are many other ways to determine the biodiversity significance of forests.

Forest species diversity: Trees

60,082

The GlobalTreeSearch database reports the existence of 60,082 tree species.

45%

Nearly half of all tree species (45 percent) are members of just ten families.

58%

Nearly 58 percent of all tree species are single-country endemics.

(Video) वनों की गंभीर स्थिति, The State of World Forests Report 2022 जारी | Dhyeya IAS

As of December 2019, a total of 20 334 tree species had been included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN, 2019a), of which 8 056 were assessed as globally threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable).

More than 1 400 tree species are assessed as critically endangered and in urgent need of conservation action.

linkFIGURE 17

Ten countries with the most tree species


SOURCE: Beech et al., 2017.

Forest species diversity: Other forest plants, animals, and fungi

Plants

About 391 000 species of vascular plants are known to science of which about 94 percent are flowering plants. Of these, 21 percent are likely threatened by extinction (Willis, 2017). Some 60 percent of the total are found in tropical forests (Burley, 2002).

Fungi

Some 144 000 species of fungi have been named and classified so far. However, it is estimated that the vast majority (over 93 percent) of fungal species are currently unknown to science, indicating that the total number of fungal species on Earth is somewhere between 2.2 and 3.8 million (Willis, 2018).

Vertebrate species

Close to 70 000 vertebrate species are known and described (IUCN, 2019a). Of these, forests provide habitats for almost 5 000 amphibian species (80 percent of all known species), close to 7 500 bird species (75 percent of all birds) and more than 3 700 different mammals (68 percent of all species) (Vié, Hilton-Taylor and Stuart, 2009).

Invertebrate species

Some 1.3 million species of invertebrates have been described. However, many more exist, with some estimates ranging from 5 million to 10 million species (Ødegaard, 2000). Most are insects, and the vast majority live in forests.

The interconnected roles of forest plants, animals, and fungi

Soil microbes, forest-dependent pollinators (insects, bats, birds and some mammals), and saproxylic beetles play very important parts in maintaining the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of forests.

Similarly, mammals, birds and other organisms can play major roles in forest ecosystem structure including on the distribution patterns of trees through their direct roles in seed dispersal, seed predation and herbivory, and indirectly through predation on such ecological architects (Beck, 2008).

Along tropical coasts, mangroves provide breeding grounds and nurseries for numerous species of fish and shellfish and help trap sediments that might otherwise adversely affect seagrass beds and coral reefs – the habitats of a myriad of marine species.

Want a more detailed look into forest species and genetic diversity? Download the full 2020 State of the World’s Forests report.

Much of human society today has at least some interaction with forests and the biodiversity they contain and all people benefit from the functions provided by components of this biodiversity in the carbon, water and nutrient cycles and through the links with food production.

Let’s examine the benefits that people derive from forests in terms of livelihoods, food security and human health.

Benefits to lives and livelihoods

In both low- and high-income countries and in all climatic zones, communities that live within forests rely the most directly on forest biodiversity for their lives and livelihoods, using products derived from forest resources for food, fodder, shelter, energy, medicine and income generation.

86 million

Forests provide more than 86 million green jobs and support the livelihoods of many more.

880 million

An estimated 880 million people spend part of their time collecting fuelwood or producing charcoal.

90%

Of the people living in extreme poverty, over 90 percent are dependent on forests for at least part of their livelihoods.

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Rural people often participate in the value chains of forest biodiversity, for example by collecting wood and non-wood products from nearby forests for personal use or sale, or engaging in forest-product industries or value addition.

Non-consumptive uses of forest biodiversity, such as recreation and tourism, are also a growing part of rural cash economies. Each year an estimated 8 billion visits are made to protected areas, many of which are forest covered.

Indigenous peoples depend to a high degree on forest biodiversity for their livelihoods, although this relation is in flux as their linkages with national and global monetary economies grow. Areas managed by indigenous peoples (approximately 28 percent of the world’s land surface) include some of the most ecologically intact forests and many hotspots of biodiversity.

Want a more detailed look into people, forests, and biodiversity? Download the full 2020 State of the World’s Forests report.

There are ways to manage the world’s forest ecosystems that will ensure the conservation and sustainable use of their biodiversity.

Creation of protected areas has historically been the forest governance instrument most often adopted to pursue biodiversity objectives. This approach has achieved positive results in terms of conserving species and establishing barriers to the progress of deforestation.

Natural reserves alone are not sufficient to conserve biodiversity. They are usually too small, create barriers to species migration and are vulnerable to factors such as climate change. Additionally, protected areas contain only a fraction of existing forest biodiversity.

This means that there is a need to look beyond protected areas and to mainstream biodiversity conservation into forest management practices.

Forests in protected areas

Globally, 18 percent of the world’s forest area, or more than 700 million hectares fall within legally established protected areas such as national parks, conservation areas and game reserves (IUCN categories I-IV).

The largest share of forest in protected areas is found in South America (31 percent) and the lowest in Europe (5 percent).*

Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 (to protect at least 17 percent of terrestrial area by 2020) has thus been exceeded for forest ecosystems as a whole. However, these areas are not yet fully representative of the diversity of forest ecosystems.

*According to the regional breakdown used in FAO, 2020, Europe includes the Russian Federation.

linkFIGURE 39

Increase in forest area within protected areas by forest type, 1992–2015 (Million hectares)


  • Tree cover flooded
  • Mosaic tree and shrub
  • Mixed tree cover
  • Tree cover broadleaved deciduous
  • Tree cover needleleaved deciduous
  • Tree cover broadleaved evergreen
  • Tree cover needleleaved evergreen

SOURCE: Study prepared by UNEP-WCMC for this publication.

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A study conducted for SOFO 2020 by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre on trends in protected forest area by global ecological zones between 1992 and 2015 found that more than 30 percent of tropical rainforests, subtropical dry forests and temperate oceanic forests were within legally protected areas (IUCN categories I-VI) in 2015.

Subtropical humid forest, temperate steppe and boreal coniferous forest should be given priority in future decisions to establish new protected areas since less than 10 percent of these forests are currently protected.

Areas with high values for both biodiversity significance and intactness, for example the northern Andes and Central America, southeastern Brazil, parts of the Congo Basin, southern Japan, the Himalayas and various parts of Southeast Asia and New Guinea, should likewise be given high priority.

Limited progress has been made to date on classifying specific forest areas as other effective area-based conservation measures, but guidance on this category is being developed and it has significant potential for forests.

Want a more detailed look into forest conservation and sustainable use? Download the full 2020 State of the World’s Forests report.

Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal. Transformational change is needed in the way we manage our forests and their biodiversity, produce and consume our food and interact with nature.

It is imperative that we decouple environmental degradation and unsustainable resource use from economic growth and associated production and consumption patterns.

Let’s explore a few ways that can lead us towards balanced solutions.

The State of the World’s Forests 2020 (6)

Conservation and sustainable management

The conservation and sustainable management of forests within an integrated landscape approach is key to the conservation of the world’s biodiversity and to food security and well-being of the world’s people.

A realistic balance between conservation goals and local needs and demands for resources that support livelihoods and well-being must be struck.

This requires effective governance; integrated policies for interrelated issues; land-tenure security; respect for the rights and knowledge of local communities and indigenous peoples; and enhanced capacity for monitoring of biodiversity outcomes. It also requires innovative financing modalities.

The State of the World’s Forests 2020 (7)

Food system transformation

Agricultural expansion is the main driver of deforestation and the associated loss of forest biodiversity. In order to halt such loss, we need to transform our food systems.

The biggest transformational change is needed in the way in which we produce and consume food. We must move away from the current situation where the demand for food is resulting inappropriate agricultural practices that drive large-scale conversion of forests to agricultural production and the loss of forest-related biodiversity.

Adopting agroforestry and agroecological production practices, restoring the productivity of degraded agricultural lands, adopting healthier diets and reducing food loss and waste are all actions that urgently need to be scaled up.

Agri-businesses should meet their commitments to deforestation-free commodity chains and companies that have not made zero deforestation commitments should do so. Commodity investors should adopt business models that are environmentally and socially responsible. These actions will, in many cases, require a revision of current policies and financial incentives.

The State of the World’s Forests 2020 (8)

Restoring biodiversity through forest restoration

Forest restoration, when implemented appropriately, helps restore habitats and ecosystems, create jobs and income and is an effective nature-based solution to climate change. While 61 countries have, together, pledged to restore 170 million hectares of degraded forest lands under the Bonn Challenge progress to date is slow. The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, announced in March 2019 aims to scale up action.

Working together for change

Critical to the transformations outlined above are effective governance, policy alignment between sectors and administrative levels, land-tenure security, respect for the rights and knowledge of local communities and indigenous peoples, enhanced capacity for monitoring of biodiversity outcomes, and innovative financing modalities.

Ultimately, we need to foster a new relationship with nature, and we can achieve that together.

FAQs

What is the state of the world's forests? ›

The 2022 edition of The State of the World's Forests explores the potential of three forest pathways for achieving green recovery and tackling environmental crises, including climate change and biodiversity loss against the backdrop of the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use and the pledge of 140 ...

Is the world gaining or losing forests? ›

Globally we deforest around ten million hectares of forest every year. That's an area the size of Portugal every year. Around half of this deforestation is offset by regrowing forests, so overall we lose around five million hectares each year. Nearly all – 95% – of this deforestation occurs in the tropics.

Which country has the most deforestation 2020? ›

According to the FAO, Nigeria has the world's highest deforestation rate of primary forests. It has lost more than half of its primary forest in the last five years.

What is the current state of deforestation? ›

United States Deforestation Rates & Statistics | GFW. In 2010, United States had 252Mha of natural forest, extending over 29% of its land area. In 2021, it lost 1.71Mha of natural forest, equivalent to 768Mt of CO₂ emissions.

What state is number 1 in forestry? ›

1. Maine. Maine, the northernmost state of the contiguous United States, is home to about 17.7 million acres of forest. This means about 89.5% of the state is forested.

Which is the richest country in forest? ›

Total forest area by country

Russia is home to the largest area of forest – 815 million hectares. Brazil, the United States, Canada, China, Australia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo also have a largest forest area – more than 100 million hectares each.

Is deforestation still a problem in 2022? ›

In the first half of this year, deforestation claimed roughly 1,500 square miles of the Amazon rainforest, an area five times the size of New York City and the greatest loss since at least 2016, according to the Brazilian Space Agency.

Can the Earth survive without forests? ›

Without them, we lose extraordinary and essential functions for life on Earth.” Trees' services to this planet range from carbon storage and soil conservation to water cycle regulation. They support natural and human food systems and provide homes for countless species – including us, through building materials.

How many trees cut down in 2022? ›

How Many Trees Cut Down Each Year or in 2022? The Deforestation Crisis Explained. If you've ever wondered how many trees are cut down every year, the shockingly short answer is that more than 15 billion trees are lost annually to deforestation.

How much of the world's forest is left? ›

10,000 years ago 57% of the world's habitable land was covered by forest. That's 6 billion hectares. Today, only 4 billion hectares are left.

Which country most cutting trees? ›

Top Ten Countries with the Most Deforestation:
RankCountryChange in Forest Area (%)
1Brazil-15.67
2Indonesia-22.28
3DR Congo-16.25
4Angola-15.97
6 more rows

What 5 countries have the largest deforestation rates in the world? ›

Highest average annual deforestation of primary forests, 2000-2005, by area. Tropical countries
1Brazil-3,466,000
2Indonesia-1,447,800
3Mexico-395,000
4Papua New Guinea-250,200
5Peru-224,600
35 more rows
16 Nov 2005

What percent of the world is forest in 2022? ›

Forests cover 4.06 billion ha (31%) of the earth's geographical area.

How fast are forests disappearing? ›

1 BILLION hectares cut down in 40 years

Half of the world's rainforest has been destroyed in just one century. If we don't act and the current rates of deforestation continue, the world's rainforests will be gone in 100 years.

Are forests decreasing? ›

Each year, millions of acres of forest around the world are destroyed or degraded by fire. The same amount is lost to logging and agriculture combined. Fire is often used as a way to clear land for other uses such as planting crops.

What state has the most trees 2022? ›

#1 Alaska. Alaska has a whopping 31.7 Million trees which not only makes it the state with the most trees, but with so few people living there compared to other states, it has 43,401 trees for every person living there.

Which country is best for forestry? ›

Best countries to study forestry
  • Forestry in USA.
  • Forestry in New Zealand.
  • Forestry in Canada.
  • Forestry in UK.

Which country has 60% of forest? ›

Russia has over 8 million km2 of forest area in total. 49% of land area of Russia is covered by forests. The total forest area of Russia is bigger than Australia. Brazil with 61.9% of its total Land covered by forests, has 5.1 million km2 of forests.

Which country has the most trees 2022? ›

Brazil is home to the Amazon, the world's biggest forest. There are about 302 billion trees in the country, but they are in jeopardy!

Which country has the richest land? ›

Luxembourg is the world's richest country and the world's largest banking centre. More than 200 banks and 1,000 investment funds operate in the capital. The high performance of Luxembourg is partly due to the fact that citizens of neighbouring countries work in the duchy: France, Germany and Belgium.

What year will deforestation stop? ›

The landmark agreement reflects a growing recognition of nature's role in helping to address global warming.

Is Amazon still burning 2022? ›

This uptick in deforestation has been accompanied by increases in fires recorded: From January to August 2022, there was a 16.7% increase in fire hotspots in the Amazon compared to the same time period in 2021 – the highest rate since 2019.

What will happen to the forest in 2050? ›

Satellite data show that undisturbed forests will completely disappear in large tropical humid regions by 2050 under current disturbance rates, according to new research.

Can forests stop global warming? ›

Forests can provide 30% of the solution to keeping global warming below 2°C. Forests remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, representing a cost-effective solution for mitigating climate change. The loss or degradation of forests compromises their ability to remove emissions.

Are there more trees today than 100 years ago? ›

Changes in the last hundred years

The U.S. has been steadily adding back forests since the 1940s. According to the The North American Forest Commission, we have two-thirds of the trees that we had in the year 1600. But the news isn't all good – cities in the US have been quickly losing critical urban forests.

Will the Earth run out of wood? ›

Inevitable, we will eventually run out of trees as trees are being cleared at an alarming rate, reforestation is not going to replenish us at a sustainable rate.

How many years until we run out of trees? ›

With the current rate of deforestation, the world's rainforests will be gone by 2100.

How many trees would it take to save the planet? ›

A single mature tree, meanwhile, may take in about 50 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. At this rate, it would take 640 trees per person to account for all American emissions, which adds up to more than 200 billion trees.

How many more years until we run out of trees? ›

There are 3 trillion trees on earth. So even if new trees would not grow, it would take almost 1 million years to make trees disappear.

Why is Earth losing its greenery? ›

The world is gradually becoming less green, scientists have found. Plant growth is declining all over the planet, and new research links the phenomenon to decreasing moisture in the air—a consequence of climate change.

How much forest is lost every minute? ›

46-58 thousand. Square miles of forest are lost every year. That's equivalent to 48 football fields every minute.

How many trees were there 100 years ago? ›

How Many Trees Were There 100 Years Ago? #2. 100 Years ago, the US had only about 70 million trees. Back then, the US had approximately 70 million trees, because the late 1910s witnessed an exponential growth of the timber industry as a result of the rapid developments in the recreation and construction industry.

Which country banned tree cutting? ›

This isn't the first time that Norway has put into practice “speaking for the trees.” The act of banning deforestation from the supply chain only continues the country's long-standing history of protecting the world's vital forests.

Which country planted a billion trees? ›

Pakistan

What country has the best trees? ›

Explained: Which countries have the most trees?
CountryTotal No of Trees
Brazil302 billion
USA228 billion
China140 billion
Democratic Republic of Congo101 billion
5 more rows
7 Jun 2022

What is the #1 driver of global deforestation? ›

Agriculture accounts for 70-80% of tropical deforestation – the permanent conversion of forested land to another land use. It accounts for a smaller percentage when degradation – the temporary loss of forest prior to regrowth – is included. One of the most-widely cited studies on this comes from Noriko Hosonuma et al.

Which country has lowest forest area in the world? ›

Forest in the Altai Territory of Russia. By the above definition, forests cover approximately 31% of the Earth's total land area, about 4.06 billion hectares (40.6 million square kilometers).
...
50 Countries with lowest forest cover in the world (as % of land area)
CountryForest area (% of land area)
South Sudan11
49 more rows

How many trees are cut down every day? ›

According to the science journal Nature, approximately 42 million trees are cut down each day (or 15 billion trees each year).

› ... › Environmental Policy ›

Hopefully, it comes as no great surprise to you that deforestation is a major problem in many areas of the world, both in terms of preserving biodiversity and p...
Reforestation could reduce carbon emissions by a quarter, according to research. Trees are the lungs of our planet, the popular saying goes. They extract carbon...
Forests play a vital role in managing climate change, and some of the most densely covered nations are working hard to ensure they can continue to do so.

Is deforestation still a problem in 2022? ›

In the first half of this year, deforestation claimed roughly 1,500 square miles of the Amazon rainforest, an area five times the size of New York City and the greatest loss since at least 2016, according to the Brazilian Space Agency.

Why forest is the lung of the earth? ›

Tropical rainforests are often called the “lungs of the planet” because they generally draw in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. But the amount of carbon dioxide they absorb, or produce, varies hugely with year-to-year variations in the climate.

Which country has 60% of forest? ›

Russia has over 8 million km2 of forest area in total. 49% of land area of Russia is covered by forests. The total forest area of Russia is bigger than Australia. Brazil with 61.9% of its total Land covered by forests, has 5.1 million km2 of forests.

What year will deforestation stop? ›

The landmark agreement reflects a growing recognition of nature's role in helping to address global warming.

How much of the world's forest is left? ›

10,000 years ago 57% of the world's habitable land was covered by forest. That's 6 billion hectares. Today, only 4 billion hectares are left.

Is Amazon still burning 2022? ›

This uptick in deforestation has been accompanied by increases in fires recorded: From January to August 2022, there was a 16.7% increase in fire hotspots in the Amazon compared to the same time period in 2021 – the highest rate since 2019.

Which country is heart of Earth? ›

Antarctica is the sixth continent, but it's a continent that you can define as the heart of Earth. The world's main marine current is the circumpolar Antarctic current that moves from west to east around Antarctica.

What would happen if forests disappear? ›

Forests' decrease will lead to an increase in the levels of carbon dioxide in the air. The temperature will be boosted upon the earth's surface. The food and shelter of animals will be absent. A decrease in the number of trees will lead to natural calamities like floods.

Which forest is called the Jewel of the Earth? ›

Tropical rainforests have been called the "jewels of the Earth" and the "world's largest pharmacy", because over one quarter of natural medicines have been discovered there.

Which country has the most trees 2022? ›

Brazil is home to the Amazon, the world's biggest forest. There are about 302 billion trees in the country, but they are in jeopardy!

Which country is famous for forest? ›

Forest Area by Country
#Countryforest Area (hectares)
1Russia814,848,460
2Brazil491,570,000
3Canada346,975,800
4United States310,645,000
94 more rows

How old is the oldest forest? ›

Scientists have discovered the world's oldest forest in an abandoned quarry near Cairo, New York. The 385-million-year-old rocks contain the fossilized woody roots of dozens of ancient trees. The find marks a turning point in Earth's history.

Videos

1. State of the World’s Forests 2022 | ESI Current Affairs for RBI Grade B Phase 1 and 2 | Reports
(EduTap - Regulatory Bodies Examinations)
2. State of the World’s Forests 2016 (SOFO2016)
(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
3. What Happened to the World’s Forests in 2021?
(World Resources Institute)
4. A picture of the world’s forests: The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020
(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
5. What Happened to the World's Forests in 2020? | Global Forest Review (中文)
(Global Forest Watch)
6. State of the World's Forests 2022: Green Recovery, Building Inclusive & Sustainable Green Economies
(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
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