Jun 8

The area of natural tropical forest under ‘sustainable management’ has increased by 47%, from 36 million hectares to 53 million hectares between 2005 and 2010, according to a new report by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO).

Photo of Atlantic forest in Brazil

Atlantic forest in Brazil

The report, entitled Status of Tropical Forest Management 2011, analysed data from 33 important forest countries, including the world’s major tropical timber producing countries: Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia.

The most significant gains in forest protection were found in Africa, where forest areas with management plans increased 180 percent, from 10 million hectares to 28 million hectares.

90% still unprotected

Despite a substantial improvement in global forest management, there is still a long way to go before the future of our forests is secure.

Although the tropical forests of Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean are better managed today than they were five years ago, around 90% of tropical forests still lack any form of protection.

Photo of Atlantic forest bordering Sâo Paulo city

Atlantic forest bordering Sâo Paulo city

Recent satellite observations have revealed an alarming increase in deforestation in Brazil, indicating that loss of forest may continue in some areas of a country even as protection increases in other areas.

Deforestation to continue

Forest clearance continues to increase as countries struggle to cope with burgeoning populations and their demand for raw materials such as wood, as well as land on which to settle and grow food.

Photo of logged trees awaiting collection

Logged Okume trees awaiting collection in Africa

According to Dr Duncan Poore, an author of the ITTO report and a former head of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “The reality is that in most countries, deforestation is going to continue”.

Read the full ITTO report.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author