'Biodiversity at risk as forests cut down at alarming rates'

Rome, May 23 : The world's forests continue to be cut down at "alarming rates", the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its State of the World's Forests 2020 report.

The 188-page report released on Friday, which caps a decade of studies on biodiversity under the oversight of the UN, examines the contributions of forests and of the populations that use and manage them, with an eye toward forest conservation, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the report, forests occupy less than a third of the world's land, but they account for 80 per cent of all amphibian species, 75 of bird species, 68 per cent of mammal species, and around 60 per cent of all vascular plant species.

But that biodiversity is at risk, the report said.

"Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity," the FAO report said.

It added that over the last 30 years at least 420 million hectares of forests have been lost to land-use changes, mostly to agricultural development, or in some cases for the production of wood.

The lost forest land is roughly the equivalent to the size of the north African country of Libya, FAO said.

The news is not all bad, however.

The report said the rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years, from around 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 10 million hectares per year over the last five years.

FAO headed the production of the report in collaboration with the UN Environment Program.

(IANS)

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'Biodiversity at risk as forests cut down at alarming rates'