Context:  According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2020, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, India has ranked third among the top 10 countries that have gained in forest areas in the last decade.

More on the news:

  • FAO has brought out this comprehensive assessment every five years since 1990. 
  • This report assesses the state of forests, their conditions and management for all member countries.
  • The assessment examined employment in the forestry sector (including logging) with data from 136 countries that represent 91 per cent of the world’s forests.

Findings of the FRA 2020:

  • The top 10 countries that have recorded the maximum average annual net gains in forest area during 2010-2020 are China, Australia, India, Chile, Vietnam, Turkey, the United States, France, Italy and Romania. 
  • The Asian continent reported the highest net gain in forest area in 2010-2020. 
    • It recorded 1.17 million hectares (ha) per year net increase in forests in the last decade.
    • However, the South Asia sub-region reported net forest losses during 1990-2020. This decline would have been much higher without the net gain in India’s forest during this period, according to FRA 2020.
  • India specific: 
    • India accounts for two percent of the total global forest area.
    • During the decade under assessment, India reported 0.38 per cent annual gain in forest (or 266,000 ha of forest increase every year at an average). 
    • Increase in forest managed by locals: The forest area managed by local, tribal and indigenous communities in India increased from zero in 1990 to about 25 million ha in 2015.
      • Credit goes to: The FRA 2020 has credited the government’s Joint Forest Management programme for the significant increase in community-managed forest areas in the Asian continent.
    • Employment generation: India reported the maximum employment in the forestry sector in the world.
      • Out of the total 12.5 million people employed in the forestry sector globally, India accounted for 6.23 million, nearly 50 per cent.
    • Disappointment: According to the assessment, the naturally regenerating forest rate is not very encouraging and is also an indicator of the policies that India is pursuing.
      • During 2010-20, the rate of increase in naturally regenerating forest was just 0.38 per cent, despite India having been taking up massive afforestation and plantation schemes. 

About FAO

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a UN agency, strives to combat hunger and reduce poverty by improving agricultural, forestries, and fishing practices.
  • Funded by industrialized countries and development banks, the FAO often works through public-private partnerships.
  • The FAO Headquarters is located in Rome, Italy.