Farming is the world’s leading cause of deforestation as more forests are continually cleared to gain more land for agriculture, The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says.
According to FAO, more forest loss occurs in the world’s tropical regions, which lost 7 million hectares of forest a year between 2000 and 2010 while gaining 6 million hectares annually in agricultural land.
Some countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have managed to change this pattern by improving land rights, boosting agricultural production and protecting forests, FAO said in a statement on Monday.
“There has always been the thinking that in order to produce more food to feed the growing population you need to clear more land for agriculture,” Reuters reports Eva Muller, director of the Forestry Policy and Resources Division at FAO, to say.
“(But) it is possible (to produce more food without cutting forests),” she said.
The United Nations estimates that by 2050 the world will need to feed a population of more than 9 billion, up from 7.4 billion today. Yet 80 percent of arable land is already in use globally.