THE World Bank estimates that over 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood and the worth of forest products traded internationally in 2004 was estimated at US$327bil.
Forests are complex ecosystems that give us:
> Products: Food, freshwater, fuel, fibre, biochemicals and genetic resources.
> Regulating services: Climate regulation, disease regulation, water purification and pollination.
> Cultural services: Spiritual and religious, recreation and ecotourism, aesthetics, inspiration, educational and cultural heritage
> Supporting services: Soil formation, nutrient cycling and primary production.
The United Nations estimates that about 1,300sqkm of forests are lost globally every year due to conversion to agricultural land, unsustainable timber harvesting, unsustainable land management practices and poor land use planning.
According to the State of the World’s Forest 2011 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, forests cover just over four billion ha or 31% of earth’s land area. Of these, primary forests (undisturbed native natural forests) make up for 36% but have reportedly decreased by more than 40 million ha in the past decade. In contrast, planted forests have grown in size and now accounts for close to 7% of total forested areas.