Forest area per human has fallen by 60% since 1960

In the past 60 years, global forest area has fallen by 81.7 million hectares, a loss that has contributed to a more than 60 percent reduction in global forest area per capita.

This loss threatens the future of biodiversity and affects the lives of 1.6 billion people around the world, according to a new study published by IOP Publishing in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

A team of researchers, led by Ronald C. Estoque of the Center for Biodiversity and Climate Change, Japan Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute (FFPRI), found that global forest area has shrunk by 81.7 million hectares between 1960 and 2019, with a gross forest loss (437.3 million hectares) that exceeds the gross forest gain (355.6 million hectares).

The team used a global land use dataset to examine how global forests have changed over space and time. Consequently, the decline in global forests combined with the increase in global population over the 60-year period has resulted in a decline in global forest area per capita by more than 60%, from 1.4 hectares in 1960 to 0 .5 hectares in 2019.

The authors explain that “the continued loss and degradation of forests affects the integrity of forest ecosystems, reducing their ability to generate and provide essential services and sustain biodiversity. It also affects the lives of at least 1.6 billion people worldwide. predominantly in developing countries, which depend on forests for various purposes”.

The results also revealed that the change in the spatio-temporal pattern of global forests supports the forest transition theory, with forest losses occurring primarily in lower income countries in the tropics and forest gains in higher income countries. high in the extratropics.

Ronald C. Estoque, the study’s lead author, explains: “Despite this spatial pattern of forest loss occurring primarily in less developed countries, the role of more developed nations in such forest loss also needs to be studied further. With the strengthening of forest conservation in more developed countries, forest loss is shifting towards less developed countries, especially in the tropics.”

“Today, monitoring the world’s forests is an integral part of several global environmental and social initiatives, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. To help To achieve the goals of these initiatives, there is a profound need to reverse, or at least flatten, the global curve of net forest loss by conserving the world’s remaining forests and restoring and rehabilitating degraded forest landscapes,” the authors further explain.