Forests could start growing again: UN expert
"There are evident signs that we could arrive at a balance in a few years,"
- FAO assistant director general Eduardo Rojas-Briales
The world's forest area could start expanding again in a few years, a top UN expert said Wednesday as the United Nations launched an international year of forests.
The 4.032 billion hectares (9.9 billion acres) of forests in the world in 2010 is down from an estimated 4.085 billion in 2000, said the FAO. But the speed at which which trees are being cut down is slowing from 8.3 million hectares a year in 1990-2000 to 5.2 million in the past decade.
"There are evident signs that we could arrive at a balance in a few years," said Rojas-Briales, adding that the deforestation rate was 50 million hectares a year 30 years ago.
China is taking its forested area from 120 million hectares to 200 million, said the UN official, who also praised efforts by South Korea and India.
Overall, Asia's forest area has increased from 90.5 million hectares in 2000 to 119.8 million in 2010, said the report.