Forest loss across the world has slowed, largely due to a switch from felling to planting in Asia. China, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines have all seen their forested areas increase in size. There are also gains in North America and Europe, but forests are being lost in Latin America and Africa driven by rising demand for food and firewood. The findings come in the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) State of the World’s Forests report.
The FAO’s reports formal launch recently at the UN headquarters in New York co-insides with the start of the UN’s International Year of Forests. The initiative aims to raise awareness of conservation among governments and other stakeholders. The FAO is urging governments to explore ways of generating income from forests that do not depend on chopping trees down.
Forests now cover 40m sq km – just less than one third of the earth’s land surface. Although 52,000 sq km were lost between 2000 and 2010, that was a marked improvement on the 83,000 sq km annual figure seen during the previous decade. Europe traditionally has been the region with the biggest increase but now Asia has overtaken it. A net loss in Asia during the period 1990-2000 has been transformed into a net gain in the decade since.
Category: UN / Forests / Conservation
The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO says the world is in danger of losing 2,500 of the 6,900 languages spoken in the world today. In its latest edition of the ‘Atlas of the world’s languages in Danger’ the UN reports a multi-fold increase since the last atlas was compiled in 2001 when 900 languages were listed as threatened with extinction.
Today there are 199 languages in the world spoken by fewer than a dozen people. This includes Wichita, which is spoken by 10 people in the US state of Oklahoma, Gros Ventre, which is spoken by 10 elderly people in Montana, USA and Karaim, which has six speakers in Ukraine. The last four speakers of Lengilu talk among themselves in Indonesia. Only one native speaker of Livonian in Latvia remains alive.
Category: UNESCO / Languages / Countries
Mangrove forests are disappearing faster than land-based forests according to a new United Nations report the UN News Service and CNN reported recently. “The World Atlas of Mangroves” says the destruction of the world’s mangrove forests is happening up to four times faster than the land-based forests.
The study commissioned by the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) reports that one fifth (around 35,500 square kilometres) of the world’s mangroves - forests straddling both land and sea – have been lost since 1980. The study does however report that the annual destruction has slowed to 0.7% a year. It warns that any further destruction due to coastal development and shrimp farming will result in significant economic and ecological declines.
Studies estimate mangroves generate up to US$9,000 per hectare annually from fishing – much more than the tourism, aquaculture and agriculture which the UN says are the biggest drivers of mangrove loss.
Category: Nature / Mangrove Forests / United Nations
Last week Queen Elizabeth II visited the United Nations in New York where she addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time since 1957. She said: “The UN had moved from being a high-minded aspiration to being a real force for common good.” She added, “For over six decades the United Nations has helped to shape international response to global dangers. The challenge now is to continue the security, prosperity and dignity of our fellow human beings.”
Since her original visit 53 years ago the number of member states have increased from 77 to 192. The Queen praised the UN for its work in reducing conflict, offering humanitarian assistance and tackling the effects of poverty. Her majesty warned of “new challenges such as terrorism and global warming that had emerged and had tested this organisation as much as its member states.” On climate change The Queen said: “Careful attention must be taken of the risks facing smaller, more vulnerable nations, many of them from the Commonwealth.”
Category: United Nations / New York / The Queen