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Nigeria has worst deforestation rate, FAO revises figures

Nigeria has worst deforestation rate, FAO revises figures

Nigeria has worst deforestation rate, FAO revises figures
Rhett A. Butler,
November 17, 2005

Nigeria has the world’s highest deforestation rate of primary forests according to revised deforestation figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Between 2000 and 2005 the country lost 55.7 percent of its primary forests — defined as forests with no visible signs of past or present human activities. Logging, subsistence agriculture, and the collection of fuelwood are cited as leading causes of forest clearing in the West African country.

FAO data originally showed Cambodia as having the highest deforestation rate from 2000-2005, but the organization revised its figures shortly after publication. The new figures say that the southeast Asian country has 322,000 hectares of primary forest, instead of the 122,000 initially listed. Therefore, Cambodia lost only 29% of its primary forests during the last five years. FAO gave no reason for the revision.

Overall, FAO concludes that net deforestation rates have fallen since the 1990-2000 period, but some 6 million hectares of the world’s primary forests are still lost each year. Primary forests, also known as old-growth forests, are considered the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet.

The FAO report shows that primary forests are being replaced by less biodiverse plantations and secondary forests. Due to a significant increase in plantation forests, forest cover has generally been expanding in North America, Europe and China while diminishing in the tropics. Industrial logging, conversion for agriculture (commercial and subsistence), fuelwood collection by rural poor, and forest fires — often purposely set by people — are responsible for the bulk of global deforestation today.

Poor tropical countries suffer highest primary forest loss

Worst deforestation rate of natural forests, 2000-2005
Credits: R. Butler

Analysis of the FAO report by, shows that developing countries in the tropics generally suffered the worst rates of forest loss between 2000 and 2005. Of the 10 countries with the highest deforestation rate during that period, all were considered “developing” and nine were tropical. Four of the top six were located in south or southeast Asia.

Worst deforestation rate of primary forests, 2000-2005. All countries.

1 Nigeria 55.7%
2 Viet Nam 54.5%
3 Cambodia 29.4%
4 Sri Lanka 15.2%
5 Malawi 14.9%
6 Indonesia 12.9%
7 North Korea 9.3%
8 Nepal 9.1%
9 Panama 6.7%
10 Guatemala 6.4%

Looking at total loss of forest area between 2000 and 2005, the picture is a bit different with the United States and Russia, both with vast expanses of forest, making the list. Brazil, home to the Amazon rain forest, lost the largest amount of forest over the past five years.

Highest deforestation of natural forests, 2000-2005.
Average annual rate of forest loss. All area figures are in hectares. All countries

1 Brazil -3,466,000
2 Indonesia -1,447,800
3 Russian Federation -532,200
4 Mexico -395,000
5 Papua New Guinea -250,200
6 Peru -224,600
7 United States of America -215,200
8 Bolivia -135,200
9 Sudan -117,807
10 Nigeria -82,000

More analysis of the FAO report can be found at New deforestation figures show Nigeria has worst rate of forest loss and United States has 7th highest rate of primary forest loss.

More deforestation information:

Avoided deforestation could send $38 billion to third world under global warming pact — 10/31/2006
Avoided deforestation will be a hot point of discussion at next week’s climate meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Already a coalition of 15 rainforest nations have proposed a plan whereby industrialized nations would pay them to protect their forests to offset greenhouse gas emissionsm. Meanwhile, last month Brazil — which has the world’s largest extent of tropical rainforests and the world’s highest rate of forest loss — said it promote a similar initiative at the talks. At stake: potentially billions of dollars for developing countries. When trees are cut greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere — roughly 20 percent of annual emissions of such heat-trapping gases result from deforestation and forest degradation. Avoided deforestation is the concept where countries are paid to prevent deforestation that would otherwise occur. Policymakers and environmentalists alike find the idea attractive because it could help fight climate change at a low cost while improving living standards for some of the world’s poorest people and preserving biodiversity and other ecosystem services. A number of prominent conservation biologists and development agencies including the World Bank and the U.N. have already endorsed the idea.

Amazon deforestation rate plunges 41 percent — 10/26/2006
Today the Brazilian government announced a sharp drop in Amazon deforestation. Forest loss for the 2005-2006 year was 13,100 square kilometers (5,057 square miles) of rainforest, down more than 40 percent from last year. The figure is the lowest since 1991 when 11,130 square kilometers (4,258 square miles) of forest were lost. Deforestation peaked in 1995 when 29,059 square kilometers (11,219 square miles) of forest were cut. Deforestation has plunged by almost 50 percent since 2004. Falling commodity prices, increased enforcement efforts, and government conservation initiatives are credited for the drop. &quotWe aggressively increased enforcement of environmental laws in the past years and it has worked,&quot Joao Paulo Capobianco, Brazil’s minister-secretary of biodiversity and forests, told the Associated Press.

World Bank says carbon trading will save rainforests — 10/23/2006
Monday the World Bank endorsed carbon trading as a way to save tropical rainforests which are increasingly threatened by logging, agricultural development, subsistence agriculture, and climate change itself. The World Bank report comes on the heels of a proposal by a coalition of developing countries to seek compensation from industrialized countries for conserving their rainforests to fight global warming. Brazil is expected to announce a similar plan at upcoming climate talks in Nairobi.

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