FAO forest cover
This indicator shows the trend in forest cover for the years 1990-2015, as well as the average annual percent change of forest cover during 2000-2015, derived from FAO Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) that are conducted every 5 to 10 years. The percentages of annual change in forest cover were calculated for the year of 2000-2015, using the forest cover in the year 2000 as a baseline, to be comparable to the forest cover loss indicator calculated from the remotely-sensed Global Forest Change data published by Hansen et al. (2000-2014).
By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.
The percent change of forest cover ranges from -100% to 100%. Higher absolute values indicate faster change in forest cover, with values less than 0 indicating net forest loss and values greater than 0 indicating net forest gain. The forest cover baseline ranges from 0-100%, with higher values indicating that a greater percentage of a country’s land surface is covered by forest. Low percent cover can be a result of past deforestation or due to the existence of natural non-forest ecosystems such as wetlands, shrublands or grasslands.
This indicator is available globally at the country and CBD/WDPA-regional scales.
The percent of forest cover is available for 1990, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 as baselines.
The average percent change of forest cover is available annually for the years 2000-2015.
The FAO forest cover indicator is derived from the forest extent values published in the FAO Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) 2015 update. The FRA are conducted every 5 or 10 years. The percent of land area with forest is reported in 1990-2015 by each country, and further updated in the 2015 assessment. This is available as a dataset through the FAO FLUDE (The Forest Land Use Data Explorer), which provides compilations of forest land use and resource data that are mostly derived from the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015. The country-level forested area and land area were grouped to calculate the CBD/WDPA-regional forest cover indicator.
The FAO Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) are mainly based on Country Reports prepared by National Correspondents in the past, supplemented by remote sensing conducted by FAO together with national focal points and regional partners in the latest assessment in 2015. The forest was defined as “Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.” (See FRA 2015 terms and definitions, 2012.)
The percentages of annual change in forest cover were calculated for the period 2000-2015, using the forest cover in 2000 as a baseline, to be comparable to the forest cover loss indicator calculated from the remotely-sensed Global Forest Change data published by Hansen et al. (2000-2014).
Although the terms and definitions, including the definition of “forest”, were standardized and documented in the designing and planning stage of the assessment, data standards, variables and methods inevitably vary somewhat over long periods. Also, the methods used by each country may vary slightly from the standard terms or definitions.
FAO Global FRA numbers could change between assessments for a variety of reasons, including: “1) new data collection methods or new forest inventories become available; 2) country boundaries have changed; 3) mistakes are discovered; 4) new definitions are used at national level or; 5) data gaps have been filled. Each of these can cause substantial change in data for past years. This may result in global, regional or national values that for the same reporting year are different from one assessment to the next” (see FAO Global FRA FAQ, 2016); therefore, the FAO urges users not to compare values from FRA 2015 with those from FRA 2000, FRA 2005 and FRA 2010.
FAO data groups five Caribbean islands, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Saint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten, as one reporting unit, the Netherlands Antilles (ANT). Therefore, in the Biodiversity Indicators Dashboard, the forest cover and change data on these five islands are the same, showing the overall values.
Source data are available on-line from FAO FLUDE (The Forest Land Use Data Explorer) as csv files.