FAO Says Deforestation Rates Are Down, but Fight Far From Over

August 10, 2000
VIENNA, United Nations The destruction of the world's forests is continuing, but evidence shows that the rate of deforestation is slowing down, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The Rome-based agency reported that its preliminary analysis of more than 300 satellite images showed that the rate of deforestation in tropical countries was at least 10 percent less over the past ten years compared with the previous decade.
But while half of the images showed a reduced rate of deforestation, 20 percent demonstrated an increase, according to FAO, which will publish its global forest resources assessment 2000 by the end of the year.
"These preliminary results do not mean that the battle against deforestation is over, and a reduction in deforestation must not be used as an excuse for unsustainable forest practices," said Hosny el-Lakany, assistant director general of the FAO Forestry Department.
He added that the new information should prompt stronger efforts to build capacity for sustainable forest management.
According to the new statistics, an estimated 15.5 hectares of forest were lost each year between 1980 and 1990 in developing countries, where most deforestation is taking place.
One key factor cited by FAO is large economic development programs involving resettlement, agriculture and infrastructure in Latin America and Asia.
In addition, overharvesting of wood, overgrazing, fire, insects, diseases, storms and air pollution all cause forest degradation.
(IRNA)