Restoring natural forests cannot compensate for the loss of primary forests.
Photo: ©FAO/Karen Minasyan

20.09.2019

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Forest loss spikes despite the pledge to halve deforestation by 2020, an assessment of progress on protecting and restoring global forests shows. Deforestation has accelerated since the endorsement of the New York Declaration on Forests.

Five years after the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), a landmark pledge to cut the rate of natural forest loss by half and restore millions of hectares of land by 2020, the global state of forests has dramatically worsened, according to the Five-year assessment of progress on protecting and restoring global forests by NYDF Assessment Partners published in September 2019.

The findings show that since hundreds of governments and companies endorsed the NYDF at the 2014 UN Climate Summit, the annual rate of tree-cover loss has increased 43 per cent, reaching over 26 million hectares per year—an area the size of the United Kingdom. Tropical forests have taken the biggest hit, accounting for over 90 per cent of global deforestation between 2001 and 2015.

Under the NYDF and the 2011 Bonn Challenge, countries pledged to restore a total of 150 million hectares of land by 2020 and restore at least an additional 200 million hectares by 2030 —  an approach increasingly viewed by scientists and policymakers as a proven, cost-effective and immediately available climate solution. 

But the report found that only a sliver of this restoration has taken place — 27 million hectares of forests (increase in additional tree and forest cover) over the last two decades.

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