COP26: Agricultural expansion is responsible for nearly 90% of global deforestation
Agricultural expansion is responsible for nearly 90% of global deforestation – a much larger impact than previously thought, said the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO ) when the first results of its new global remote sensing survey are released today.
Deforestation is the conversion of forest to other land uses, such as agriculture and infrastructure. Globally, more than half of forest losses are due to conversion of forests to cropland, while livestock grazing is responsible for nearly 40 percent of forest loss, according to the new study.
The new data also confirms an overall slowdown in global deforestation while warning that tropical rainforests, in particular, are under heavy pressure from agricultural expansion.
“According to the latest FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment, we have lost 420 million hectares of forests since 1990,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said today in a speech prepared for a 26th Conference High-level Parties on Climate Change (COP26). dialogue titled âStepping up actions to reverse the trend of deforestationâ where FAO presented the new findings. To this end, he stressed that increasing agrifood productivity to meet the new demands of a growing population and stopping deforestation are not incompatible objectives.
Reversing the trend of deforestation and stepping up hard-won progress on this front is vitally important to rebuilding better and more environmentally from the COVID-19 pandemic, Qu added.
To be successful in such an endeavor, we need to know where and why deforestation and forest degradation are occurring and where action is needed, said the Director-General, noting that this can only be achieved by combining the latest innovations. technologies with local expertise in the field. . The new survey is a good example of such an approach.
Increasing agrifood productivity to meet the new demands of a growing population and halting deforestation are not mutually exclusive goals. More than 20 developing countries have already shown that it is possible to do this. Indeed, the latest data confirms that deforestation has been successfully reduced in South America and Asia.
Tropical forests are under threat
According to new data, in 2000-2018, the vast majority of deforestation took place in tropical biomes. Despite a slowdown in deforestation in South America and Asia, the tropical rainforests in these regions continue to experience the highest rates of deforestation.
Drivers of deforestation differ across regions of the world
Agriculture remains the main driver of deforestation in all regions except Europe, where urban development and infrastructure have a greater impact, according to the study. Conversion to cropland dominates forest loss in Africa and Asia, with more than 75 percent of forest area lost converted to cropland. In South America, nearly three quarters of deforestation is due to grazing by livestock.
The FAO-led study was conducted using satellite data and tools developed in partnership with NASA and Google, and in close collaboration with more than 800 national experts from nearly 130 countries.
The High-Level Dialogue brought together the heads and directors of member organizations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests to build momentum on forest-based climate actions as part of the United Nations Secretary-General’s initiative on Reverse the trend on deforestation. The event will also be a major contribution to the Stockholm + 50 Summit, the 17th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF17) and the in-depth review of SDG15 (Life on land) by the High Level Political Forum. on Sustainable Development Development (HLPF) in 2022.
FAO’s work to stop deforestation
Given the multiple links between forests, agriculture and food security, FAO’s new strategic framework will lead efforts to transform agrifood systems to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
In collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), FAO is helping more than 60 countries implement strategies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through UN-REDD.
FAO is also co-leading the Decade for Ecosystem Restoration with UNEP, an important opportunity to accelerate innovative ideas into ambitious actions.
In addition, the recent United Nations Food Systems Summit formed a coalition between producer and consumer countries, businesses and international organizations to stop deforestation and the adverse environmental impacts of converting land into agricultural products.
The FAO-led Collaborative Partnership on Forests, bringing together 15 international organizations, is developing a joint initiative to reverse the trend of deforestation to accelerate action and intensify impact.