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9. Are forests managed in a sustainable way?

  • 9.1 Is the world making progress towards sustainable forest management?
  • 9.2 Are different parts of the world making progress towards sustainable management?
  • 9.3 Are different sub-regions progressing differently?

Given the complexity of the question of sustainable forest management, the answer cannot be a definitive one. Trends were analysed for 21 variables as part of this study. There are many good signs and positive trends, but many negative trends remain. While intensive forest plantation and conservation efforts are on the rise, primary forests continue to be degraded or converted to agriculture at alarming rates. The answer also depends on the scale and perspective applied.

It must be noted that the findings on forest management have some limitations, because of a lack of information at the global level. Some aspects of sustainable forest management such as the legal, institutional and policy framework were not covered. Nevertheless, the results provide a global picture of key trends and should be seen as an illustration of progress, or lack of progress, towards sustainable forest management. More...

9.1 Is the world making progress towards sustainable forest management?

At global level, trends with respect to sustainable forest management have remained relatively stable over the last 15 years. On the one hand, there has been a decrease in the area of primary forest and in employment, and an increase in the area of forest adversely affected by insects, diseases, and other disturbances. On the other hand, there has been an increase in the area of forest designated for biological diversity and social services, as well as in the area of productive and protective forest plantations, amount and value of non-wood forest product removals, and area of forests under private ownership. More...

Table on global trends

9.2 Are different parts of the world making progress towards sustainable management?

9.2.1 In Africa, progress towards sustainable forest management appears to have been limited during the last 15 years. There are some indications that the net loss of forest area has slowed down and that the area of forest designated for conservation of biological diversity increased slightly. However, the continued rapid loss of forest area - the largest of any region during the last 15 years - is particularly worrying. More...

Table on trends in Africa

9.2.2 In Asia, forest area was almost the same in 2005 as in 1990, mainly due to large-scale efforts to replant forests (afforestation), particularly in China. Though forest health deteriorated, the area affected by forest fires, pests, and diseases is still a relatively small proportion of the total forest area. The rapid decrease in area of primary forest is cause for concern, while the increase in area designated for conservation of biological diversity and for protective functions is commendable. More...

Table on trends in Asia

9.2.3 In Europe, the status of forest resources has essentially been stable, with the severe storms of 1999 being the main reason for the negative trend in the health and vitality of forests. The focus of forest management in Europe has moved from productive functions towards conservation of biological diversity, protection, and multiple uses. More...

Table on trends in Europe

9.2.4 In North and Central America, progress towards sustainable forest management was generally positive for the region as a whole except in terms of area adversely affected by insects, diseases, and other disturbances which has increased. There was, however, considerable variation among the subregions. More...

Table on trends in North and Central America

9.2.5 In Oceania, information availability was generally very weak in terms of comparable time series and data were insufficient for determining regional trends for most of the variables. Thus, it is difficult to assess progress towards sustainable forest management for that region. More...

Table on trends in Oceania

9.2.6 In South America, progress towards sustainable forest management was mixed. The increasing net loss of forest area and the rate of loss of primary forest are cause for concern. However, an increasing area of forest has been designated for conservation of biological diversity and for social services. The decrease in removals of fuelwood may reflect a reduced demand for this product in the region, but was partly offset by an increase in removals of industrial roundwood. The area of productive forest plantations increased and may meet a larger proportion of the demand for wood in the future. More...

Table on trends in South America

9.3 Are different sub-regions progressing differently?

Africa, Asia as well as well as North and Central America were each divided further into three geographic subregions.This analysis can reveal patterns that are not prominent at a regional scale, just as the regional breakdown can highlight variations masked at global scale.

In Africa, the Western and Central regions had more positive than negative trends, while the Eastern and Southern regions had predominantly negative trends. However, limited information availability for Western and Central Africa may have affected the results. North America and the Caribbean also had a majority of positive trends, whereas Central America had a preponderance of negative ones. The most significant difference between subregions occurred in Asia, where East Asia had many positive trends, while the South and Southeast Asia subregion was dominated by negative trends.

Table 8.9: Trends towards sustainable forest management by region

In considering progress towards sustainable forest management, the very large differences among the subregions in terms of size and population structure must be taken into consideration. In terms of forest area, Europe, North America, and South America weigh most heavily and worldwide there seems to be a balance between positive and negative trends. When weighing progress in each country by the percentage of rural poor population, the picture becomes radically different with a higher proportion of negative trends. In that case, some of the African subregions are more prominent and the subregion of South and Southeast Asia dominates. More...


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