Forests fulfil a number of functions that are vital for humanity, including the provision of goods (wood and non-wood forest products) and services such as habitat for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, coastal protection and soil and water conservation. The indicator provides a measure of the relative extent of forest in a country. The availability of accurate data on a country's forest area is a key element for forest policy and planning within the context of sustainable development. Changes in forest area reflect the demand for land for other uses and may help identify unsustainable practices in the forestry and agricultural sector. Forest area as percentage of total land area may be used as a rough proxy for the extent to which the forests in a country are being conserved or restored, but it is only partly a measure for the extent to which they are sustainably managed. The indicator was included among the indicators for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) (indicator 7.1 “Proportion of land covered by forest”).
Forest area as a proportion of total land area (%)