|Annual forest cover loss/gain|
Global forest cover shrank between 1990 and 2005 by three per cent. That corresponds to an average annual loss of 0.2 per cent or 20,000 hectares a day. As an examination of the Ifo Institute shows, the development of forested areas is regionally quite different. A particularly large amount of forest area has been cleared in recent years in tropical countries especially Brazil, Indonesia and Sudan.
In 2007, Hans-Werner Sinn, Professor of Economics and Finance, University of Munich and President of the Ifo Institute said:"Every year, the world loses a forest area the size of the Republic of Ireland. This accounts for 18 per cent of annual carbon dioxide emissions, more than from the world’s entire transport sector. Deforestation must be reversed not accelerated."
Jana Lippelt says in an article, Kurz zum Klima: Klimakiller Abholzung? (in German; article title - - Briefly on Climate: Climate Killer deforestation?), that while the forest surfaces in Brazil, with annual losses of 0.6 per cent, are not shrinking as fast as in Indonesia (minus 2 per cent annually), this loss is particularly strong due to the high share of Brazil in global forest area. Brazil and Sudan together are responsible for 47 per cent of the annual decline in forest areas worldwide. A major cause is the increasing land requirements for the production of biofuels from palm oil, soybeans and sugar cane as well as for cattle breeding.
In contrast, positive developments are reported in China and Rwanda. In China a ten-year afforestation programme was started in 2002. In recent years the forest area has grown by approximately four million hectares annually (2.2 per cent). China thus accounts for 73 per cent of worldwide forest expansion. In Rwanda, after the great wave of deforestation caused by the civil war refugees in 1994, a reforestation rate of 6.9 per cent per year was achieved between 2000 and 2005.
Lippelt says particularly harmful for the climate is the clearance of primeval forests and tropical rainforests since they store large amounts of carbon. With slash and burn methods alone, ca. 650 million tons of CO2 are released throughout the world annually. In total, deforestation is responsible for 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the protection of existing forests, afforestation is of a special importance. Since forests store CO2 on a long-term basis, planting trees is one of the few ways to influence the world climate positively.