Larch trees in Mongolia’s Altansumber forest. Photo: FAO/Sean Gallagher
19 July 2016 – For the first time, a new United Nations report details the number of trees, forests and how the land is used in the world’s drylands, and the findings could be used to track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and help fight climate change.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today issued in Rome the preliminary findings of the first ever statistical sampling-based assessment of land use in the world’s drylands, amid its World Forest Week.
Using freely available satellite images and a newly developed survey method, FAO found that drylands cover about 41 per cent of the world’s land surface – an area twice the size of Africa. Of that land, 1.1 billion hectares are forest, accounting for more than one-quarter of the global forest area.
The leaves and fruit of trees are sources of food for people and fodder for animals; their wood provides fuel for cooking and heating and can be a source of income for poor households; trees protect soils, crops and animals from the sun and winds, while forests are often rich in biodiversity.
The UN agency cites recent studies which point to the need to restore drylands to better cope with the effects of drought, desertification and land degradation.Read more...