According to a recently concluded assessment led by APFNet in collaboration with FAO, the total forest area across the APEC economies increased by 27.9 million hectares between 2007 and 2020. Nine economies increased their forest area, led by China, Australia and the United States, but part of the increase was offset by forest loss in ten other economies.
According to the assessment report, agricultural expansion, legal and illegal forest product extraction, infrastructure development and biophysical factors were the key direct drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the APEC region over the period. The underlying drivers included poverty, population increase, increased demand for wood products, governance factors and urbanization.
On the other hand, increases in forest area were the result of governmental and voluntary afforestation, reforestation and restoration programmes; market forces; strengthened conservation; strengthened forest tenure; improved forest law enforcement and governance arrangements; participation in global and regional processes that support improved forest management; and an increase in the forest area certified as sustainably managed.
Achievement of the APEC 2020 Forest Cover Goal is not an end. All APEC economies face climate-related challenges ranging from an increased intensity and frequency of disasters to rising food and water insecurity, and forests have an important role to play in addressing these. To date, 20 APEC economies have endorsed the Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forests and Land Use announced at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in which they commit to reversing deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
Based on the actions and lessons learnt from the APEC economies in their efforts to increase forest area, the assessment report made the following recommendations for economies to further increase their forest cover and reduce forest degradation:
· Review forest-related policies and legislation with a view to identifying and removing impediments to forest restoration efforts and to identifying additional measures to increase forest area and reduce deforestation and forest degradation.
· Examine the direct and indirect key drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and implement further mitigation measures.
· Consider developing new, and expanding existing, programmes on forest restoration and rehabilitation around emerging initiatives, techniques and methodologies such as forest landscape restoration.
· Examine current rates of afforestation, reforestation and forest restoration and consider whether new direct incentives would encourage additional efforts.
· Explore opportunities for new and additional direct governmental, environmentally sensitive and socially responsible planting programmes and new voluntary planting programmes.
· Consider the merits of creating an enabling environment that supports investment in forests by removing structural impediments and operational constraints.
· Consider increasing finance for REDD initiatives through various channels, accelerating REDD readiness programmes in light of the potential advantages accruing to economies that qualify for results-based financing, and reviewing how self-determined contributions can be a key part of expanding forest cover.
· Review programmes for reforming forest tenure or transferring forest property rights to identify and address impediments to successful implementation.
· Implement new and additional measures to improve forest governance and curb illegal logging.
· Consider enacting regulations or other instruments and tools to discourage imports of illegally sourced timber.
· Continue to improve data collection, monitoring and forest inventories, including through the use of advanced and emerging technologies.
To read the full assessment report, click below:
Achieving the APEC 2020 Forest Cover Goal – A synthesis of economy reports