November 14, 2005

World forest losses slowing but still alarming: UN

ROME (Reuters) - The world's forests are reduced by some 13
million hectares each year but the rate of loss is slowing
down, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said
on Monday.

"Deforestation continues at an alarming rate," the
Rome-based organization said in its Global Forest Resources
Assessment, issued after a five-year survey.

FAO said net loss of forest area between 2000 and 2005 was
7.3 million hectares a year -- an area about the size of Sierra
Leone or Panama -- but that was down from some 8.9 million
hectares a year between 1990 and 2000.

FAO said the rate of loss was slowing thanks to new
planting and natural forest expansion.

It said new forests and trees were being planted at
increasing rates but they still accounted for less than 5
percent of all the world's forest areas.

The report, covering 229 countries and territories, was the
most comprehensive assessment to date of the world's forest
resources, FAO said.

It said forests now covered nearly 4 billion hectares, some
30 percent of the world's land masses, but added that only 10
countries accounted for two-thirds of all forest area.

They were listed as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Indonesia, Peru, Russia
and the United States.

South America suffered the largest net loss of forests
between 2000 and 2005 -- around 4.3 million hectares per year
-- followed by Africa, which lost 4 million hectares annually.