For the last 60 years, the area of forests in the world has decreased by 81.7 million hectares. If in 1960 there was 1.4 hectares of forest per one inhabitant of the Earth, then in 2019 – no more than 0.5 hectares. Thus, the forest area per capita decreased by more than 60%.
Forests mostly disappeared in the tropics in low-income countries. In more prosperous countries outside the tropics, their area, on the contrary, grew. While forest loss is becoming common in less developed countries, the role of developed countries in this loss also needs to be explored, the researchers said.
Decreasing forest area per capita also depends on the increase in te number of people on the planet. However, the very disappearance of forests in certain areas will affect the lives of 1.6 billion of their inhabitants and threaten the future of diversity.
“The continuous loss and degradation of forests affect the integrity of forest ecosystems, reducing their ability to generate and provide essential services and sustain biodiversity. It also impacts the lives of at least 1.6 billion people worldwide, predominantly in developing countries, who depend on forests for various purposes,” the researchers say.
Scientists explain that monitoring the world’s forests is an integral part of global environmental and social initiatives. To achieve the goals set by these initiatives, it is necessary to preserve forest remnants and restore forest landscapes where they have been damaged.