FAO :: Newsroom :: News stories :: 2006 :: Asia-Pacific leadin…
Asia-Pacific leading the world in forest plantation development
Still, lowest forest area per person in the world
13 April 2006, Bangkok, New Delhi, Rome – The Asia-Pacific region recorded the highest rate of forest plantation in the world, over the past five years, according to data released by FAO today. This helped the region reverse the 1990s’ trend of net loss of forest cover into a net gain during the period from 2000 to 2005, FAO said in advance of a gathering of key forestry officials in Dehradun, India, 17 to 21 April.

From a net loss of 1.3 million hectares per year in the 1990s, Asia-Pacific boasted a net gain of more than 600 000 hectares per year between 2000 and 2005, marking it – along with Europe – as the world’s only regions with a sustained increase in forests. The gain was primarily due to an increase in forest plantations.

Of the ten countries in the world with the largest plantation areas, six are in the Asia-Pacific region, namely China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Viet Nam. China posted an overall increase in forest area of more than 4 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2005, according to FAO.

The Asia-Pacific region, however, still has just 0.2 hectares of forest per person – the lowest amount per capita in the world – compared to 1.1 hectares per person outside of Asia and the Pacific.

Accelerated loss of natural forests

The overall increase in forest area – resulting from the rapid expansion of plantations – largely masks the disturbing continued loss of natural forests. During the past five years, the region lost more than 6 million hectares of natural forests, mainly converted to agricultural crops, including oil palm. Patrick Durst, FAO’s senior forestry officer for Asia-Pacific said this loss of more than one million hectares of natural forests each year was alarming.

“While plantation forests are an extremely valuable resource and will undoubtedly supply an increasing portion of wood and fiber needs in the future, they should not be considered a substitute for the region’s dwindling natural forests,” according to Durst.

Forest fires and invasive species

Wildfires have increased in scale and frequency throughout East Asia during the past five years, and are also problematic in Australia and Southeast Asia as well.

Invasive species also cause huge losses in forest productivity. Economic losses resulting from invasive plant species in the region are estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars.

Progress in forest policies and legislation

The region has made good progress in reforming and updating forest policies and legislation in recent years, according to FAO. Throughout the region, countries are also frequently decentralizing forest management and giving more involvement to private sector and civil society in forestry matters.

Meeting to discuss future course

“The progress made in forest policies, legislation and institutions in the Asia-Pacific shows a high level of political commitment to sustainable forest management. This is commendable,” said Durst.

“But much more should be done to address the loss of natural forests, wildfires and invasive species. How countries address these concerns will determine the future of forest management in Asia and the Pacific,” he added.
Contact:
Pierre Antonios
Media Relations Officer, FAO
pierre.antonios@fao.org
(+39) 06 570 53473
(+39) 348 25 23807

Contact:

Pierre Antonios
Media Relations Officer, FAO
pierre.antonios@fao.org
(+39) 06 570 53473
(+39) 348 25 23 807

FAO Forest Department

Forests help conserve biodiversity.

e-mail this article
Asia-Pacific leading the world in forest plantation development
Still, lowest forest area per person in the world
13 April 2006 - The Asia-Pacific region recorded the highest rate of forest plantation in the world over the past five years.
A destination email address is needed.
A valid destination email address is needed.
RSS