Commentary by Doug Boucher, special to www.mongabay.com
December 15, 2010
Guest commentary by Doug Boucher, director of the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative at the Union of Concerned Scientists
Amid the whirlwind of climate change news before and after the Cancún climate conference, including a landmark agreement on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation, and related pro-forest actions), an important story seems to have passed by with little notice. Over the past two months, several new analyses have given clear evidence that deforestation has gone down over the past several years. In fact, the drop is quite impressive, and shows that of all the approaches to avoiding the worst consequences of global warming, reducing tropical deforestation is the one that has contributed by far the most to date.
The first analysis to come out, in October, was the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) for 2010. This compendium of data from all the countries on the planet is released every five years, and provides the broadest look at the state of the world’s forests. The new FRA data showed that tropical deforestation in the first decade of the 2000s was down 18% from the level of the 1990s, dropping from 11.33 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 9.34 million hectares per year in the 2000s. Furthermore, the rate dropped from the first 5 years of the decade to the second five years, principally due to a dramatic decline in Brazilian Amazon deforestation. The FRA 2010 data also showed that the rate of primary forest loss, not just total forest loss, has declined. …