About UNEP UNEP Offices News Centre Publications Events Awards Milestones UNEP Store
UNEP Website GEO Home Page

Forests in flux

Natural forest, excluding regrowth: Africa (% of total land area)

Conspicuous deforestation can be expected in Africa, especially in a Security First scenario.

Source: IMAGE 2.2 (see technical annex)

Key to charts

Much of the increased demand for food is met by conversion of forests to cropland. This is reflected in both loss of total forest area and increased exploitation of remaining forests (see chart on the right). Patterns of forest loss vary by sub-region. Very little natural forest remains in Northern Africa in any of the scenarios.

Elsewhere, the percentage losses are greatest in Southern Africa, but the total losses are higher in Western and Central Africa given their larger forest areas. The lack of political and market controls in a Security First scenario, results in the worst forest and woodland losses. Some areas are protected for the exclusive benefit of the elite, but elsewhere forest resources are overexploited for the export market. Poverty leads to overexploitation of the remaining natural forest resources for fuel, food, medicines and shelter. In a Markets First world, advances in agricultural efficiency and the efforts of governments and business to protect forests that serve as the backbone of an expanding forest products industry, actually keep the losses somewhat lower than in a Policy First world. In the latter scenario, however, benefits from the products of the forest are more broadly shared and the degree of exploitation is not as damaging. Similarly, communitybased natural resources management, including reforestation programmes, help to limit the total losses in both Policy First and Sustainability First scenarios.