World’s forests disappearing slightly less quickly

Good news! The world’s forests are being destroyed at a slightly-slower-if-still-alarming rate. That’s the chipper assessment of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s new report on global deforestation. It compared trends in 229 countries over the past five years with data from the 1990s, finding that on average, just over 18 million acres of forest have been destroyed every year since 2000. That’s down from 22 million acres a year in the prior decade. South America trumped Africa for the dubious distinction of continent with highest net annual loss of forests. Tree planting and natural forest expansion in North America, Europe, and especially China are bolstering the world’s overall forest cover, reports the FAO. But biologists contend that tree plantations cannot make up for the plant and critter diversity being lost with virgin forest habitats.