November 19, 2015

Global distribution of protective forests for soil and water resources as % of total forest area in 2015
The disribution of numberd of countries reporting protective forests for conservation of soil and water resources was divided into U-shaped double peaks at 0 and 100%. This suggests a socio-economic influence on the designation of protective areas. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. CC BY-NC-ND

 Project associate professor Satoru Miura led the analysis and publication of the quarter-century trend of protective functions and ecosystem services of global forests based on Global Forest Resources Assessment (GFRA2015) data released by the FAO in cooperation with researchers from three countries and two international institutes in September of 2015. It consists one of 13 thematic groups, which were published as a special feature in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

 The FAO started to issue GFRA reports in 1948, and GFRA have expressed a significant concern for forest area and forest resources in the early stages. Since the 1970s, the FAO has widened its assessments from early stage woody products to multiple functions of forests. According to GFRA2015, it revealed a 3% decrease in global forest area from 1990 (4,128 M ha) to 2015 (3,999 M ha); however the annual rate of net forest loss halved during 2010 to 2015 from levels in the 1990s. The global forest area that is managed for the protection of soil and water or for ecosystem services stands at 1.002 billion ha or 1.018 billion ha as of 2015, which is 25.1% and 25.4% respectively of all global forested areas. The steady increase in reporting countries for both variables comes with an escalation in public interest in the multiple functions of forests.

 Forest covers only 29% of the Earth’s total land area, or 8% of the global surface. However, it provides a basis of livelihoods and plays an invaluable role in mitigation of threats posed by climate change. The joint scientific analyses covering the entire FRA 2015 data are extremely important. The introduction and the 13 papers, including this one, represent unique data on forests and forestry that can serve all scientists, forest managers, NPOs, and policy makers whose interests lie in global environmental issues.

Paper Information

Miura, S., Amacher, M., Hofer, T., San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Ernawati, Thackway, R.Protective functions and ecosystem services of global forests in the past quarter-century Forest Ecology and Management, 7 September 2015,doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2015.03.039