A picture of the world’s forests: FAO releases the Key Findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020

07 May 2020


The world’s forest area is decreasing, but the rate of loss has slowed. This is one piece of information revealed in the “Key Findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020”, released today by GFOI’s partner the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The publication presents the main global and regional results of the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2020, which is the latest in a series of assessments conducted by the FAO every 5 to ten years since 1946 . The FRA 2020 report provides a comprehensive picture of the world’s forests, including information on the extent of forest resources, their condition, management and uses.

FRA 2020 is based on official country statistics collected through a global network of National Correspondents and covers more than 60 variables from 236 countries and territories for the period from 1990 to 2020. The full report, containing an in depth analysis of the data, a dissemination platform and the 236 individual reports for the countries and territories covered by the assessment, will be released in the following months.



In anticipation of these products, other key findings unveiled today include:

  • Forests cover nearly one-third of the land globally (31% of the total land area – 4.06 billion ha)
  • More than half (54 percent) of the world’s forests are in only five countries – Brazil, Canada, China, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America
  • Of the main world regions, Africa had the highest rate of net forest loss in the last ten years (−3.9 million ha per year), followed by South America (−2.6 million ha per year). The forest area increased in Asia, Oceania and Europe between 2010 and 2020
  • Deforestation continues, but at a lower rate
  • Total forest carbon stock is decreasing with declining forest


While the assessment reveals some positive trends, it also makes clear that we need to act urgently to strengthen them to meet internationally agreed objectives of halting deforestation and increasing global forest area.

Find out more! Watch the launch video, read the press release, download the Key Findings publication and visit the digital interactive version: “A Fresh Perspective: Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020”.

FRA is the only comprehensive assessment of world’s forests that is based on official country statistics and thus an essential source of information for the forest monitoring community. It reminds us of the importance of collecting, sharing and using high quality data and information on the world’s forests.

Amid multiple challenges – growing population, climate change and continued biodiversity loss and, recently, the covid-19 pandemic – accurate information can led to effective decisions that protect and promote sustainable management of our forests. As we navigate through an era of stretched resources and the need to come together to solve global problems, coordination of global forest monitoring support to developing countries is as vital as ever.