MONDAY, April 15, 2024

Thai forest area in decline, matching world trend: World Bank data

Thai forest area in decline, matching world trend: World Bank data

The world’s total forest areas have shrunk by nearly 20 million square kilometres in the past three decades, from 42.03 million reported in 1992, to 40.44 million in 2021, according to World Bank data, which was last updated in October 2023.

The bank attributed the loss of forested areas to the expansion of agriculture and industrialisation, which had reduced the world’s forests to about 30% of the liveable space on Earth, and comprising about 3 trillion trees.

Based on data from the World Bank, online publisher Visual Capitalist recently published visual data on the share of world forests by country, with many interesting results.

At the top of the list, Russia alone can boast more than one-fifth (20.1%) of the world’s forests. This is equal to 8 million sq. km. of forest, slightly less than half of the entire country.

In second place is Brazil with slightly more than 12% of total forests covering the land mass, close to 5 million, or more than 60% of the entire country. The biggest contributor to its forest cover is the Amazon rainforest, which has lost 237,000 in the span of five years due to deforestation.

Canada is in third place with 3.46 million of forests (8.6%) followed by the US in fourth with 3.09 million (7.7%). Both countries have developed beloved national park systems aimed at protecting the natural biodiversity of the continent.

China rounds out the top five, with its 5.5% share or 2.2 million Unlike other nations whose forest cover has seen a steady decline, China managed to in two and a half decades to increase its forest area by 511,807, an area that exceeds the entirety of Thailand.

Thai forest area in decline, matching world trend: World Bank data

In sixth and seventh places, Australia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) each share 3% of the world’s forests at 1.34 and 1.25 million, respectively. The DRC is part of the Congo Basin, the world’s second largest tropical rainforest, and spanning five countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Indonesia (915,277, India (724,264, and Peru (721,575 round out the top 10 with a 2.3%, 1.8% and 1.8% share, respectively.

Thailand, meanwhile, does not make the World Bank’s top 10, or even top 20 list of the largest share of world forests. Data from the Royal Forest Department indicates that the kingdom had a total forest area of 162,909 in 2023, a figure that has gradually dropped in recent years.

Three provinces — Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Ang Thong — lack a single of forested area.

The World Bank study also noted that not all forests are created equal. Primary forests — forests undisturbed by human activity — are better carbon sinks and have greater biodiversity than human-planted ones.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and Libya are four countries in the world where human-planted forests account for the entire forest cover due to the extremely arid conditions that prevent forests from occuring naturally.

According to World Bank’s data, 82% of Thailand’s forest are primary ones while 18% are human-planted.