Deforestation is an ongoing global problem. From this National Geographic webpage:

The quickest solution to deforestation would be to simply stop cutting down trees. [However], financial realities make this unlikely to occur. ... A more workable solution is to carefully manage forest resources by eliminating clear-cutting to make sure that forest environments remain intact. ... The number of new tree plantations is growing each year, but their total still equals a tiny fraction of the Earth’s forested land.

How much forested land is currently protected from logging/deforestation? How much is currently at risk? How do tree plantations compare in overall size? I'm hoping someone could answer these questions in terms of the main countries involved.

Here is what I have found thus far:

From http://www.earth-policy.org/indicators/C56

Forests cover 31 percent of the world's land surface, just over 4 billion hectares. This is down from the pre-industrial area of 5.9 billion hectares. ... According to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [below], 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.

World Forest Cover, 1990 -2010

South America and Africa are clearly the biggest area of concerns due to illegal logging and corrupt governance. Should we expect the rates of deforestation in those continents to continue "as-is"? Or is there some percentage of forested areas that can be expected to last (e.g. perhaps some countries are less corrupt)? Furthermore, if the size of forested land on N. America, Asia, and Europe remains constant or grows, how much of that is due to tree plantations?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Safe - non of it! There will always be someone who wants to cut a deal with a government to have parts of forests reclassified to be logged. Significant parts of the forests in the Amazon& in Indonesia have been cut down illegally. Some governments have been unable or unwilling to enforce their own laws. A more accurate question would be how much forested land has been designated as a forest that cannot be logged, now? Then there's the issue of natural forest & plantation "forest". $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Nov 21, 2015 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred - interesting facts though. I for one cannot imagine that Asia has actually increased it's forest cover in the past 20 years ! I would have thought we would have regressed in that regard. $\endgroup$
    – gansub
    Nov 21, 2015 at 12:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I almost agree with Fred. Nearly all countries have 'preserved' forests, fully protected by law, in which illegal logging is rife. I think in particular of India, Indonesia, Philippines, and many other Pacific islands. Nearly everywhere, politicians and authorities turn a blind eye to massive clearance. Greed trumps the law every time. The only exception I can think of is the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, where forests really are protected. $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2015 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ Basically I am looking for a quantification of the "at-risk" forests and "safe" forests, but I think tree plantations could be included as part of an in-depth answer that addresses a long-term outlook. I originally wanted to ask this question as "what countries have programs to successfully manage forested lands" but I didn't think I'd get much quantification. If illegal land-clearing is common in the country, that is certaintly an "at risk" area, regardless if a program exists. If people have ideas as to how to word the question better please edit or comment. $\endgroup$
    – f.thorpe
    Nov 21, 2015 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @gansub: I agree with you. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Nov 22, 2015 at 4:40


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.