Rome : More than nine hectares of forests were lost per minute between 1990 and 2005, a period when the world’s deforestation rate accelerated, a UN survey shows.
The net loss of forests — deforestation offset by afforestation or natural expansion — totaled 72.9 million hectares during the 15-year period, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In other words, the net loss averaged 4.9 million hectares per year, or 9.3 hectares of forests per minute over the 15 years, Xinhua reported.
The new data also shows 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 survey also shows that the worldwide 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.
The net loss was only two thirds of the previous figure of 107.4 million hectares, according to the survey.
The world’s deforestation averaged 14.5 million hectares per year, consistent with previous estimates.
Deforestation, which occurred mainly in the tropics, may be attributed to the conversion of forests to farmland.
“Deforestation is depriving millions of people of forest goods and services that are crucial to rural livelihoods, economic well-being and environmental health,” said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO assistant director-general for forestry.
The satellite imagery-based survey shows that the world was covered by 3.69 billion hectares of forests in 2005, or 30 percent of the global land area.