Forest area refers to land which is under the cover of natural or planted trees of at least five meters, whether productive or not. This excludes trees in gardens, urban parks, or tree stands in agricultural production systems. According to the 2013 World Bank report, some countries have forested areas occupying over 80% of their entire landmass while others, like Oman, have an insignificant forest area of less than 1%. Other countries with small percentages of forested land include Qatar, San Marino, Mauritania, Djibouti, Libya, Kuwait, and Greenland.
Oman’s Nonexistent Forest
Forest area in Oman was last measured as covering 0.01% of its area in 2011. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, around 2,000 hectares of Oman’s forested land is artificially planted, and this is not a new phenomenon there. Forest coverage in Oman when excluding planted forests has remained at 0.0% since 1990. The country has notable oil and gas resources, and its industrial development focuses on petrochemicals processing and metal manufacturing.
Egypt’s Afforestation Efforts
Forest area in Egypt was last measured at 0.1% coverage in 2013, having remained at that level since 2011. According to the World Bank and the UN, around 70,000 hectares of Egyptian land is forested. Between 1990 and 2000, Egypt gained an average of 1500 hectares per year, but the rate of forestation has since decreased by 2.71% per year. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion, Egypt more or less maintained the area of its woodland habitat and forest between 2000 and 2005. The percentage of land covered in forest in Egypt is not likely to change in the near future, due to wooded areas being lost to urbanization and windblown sands.
Areas Continuing to Experience Losses of Forests
According to the World Bank report, forest coverage in Mauritania was last measured at 0.23% in 2013. The share of the area covered in forest had remained essentially unchanged from around 0.2% in 2011. About 242,000 hectares of Mauritania is forested. Environmental issues surrounding forests in Mauritania include overgrazing by livestock and wildlife, deforestation from human activities, and soil erosion. All of these factors are contributing to desertification there, and this may continue to contribute to a decline in the percentage of land covered in forest in the future. San Marino’s land covered in forest is one of the lowest in the world as well, standing at close to 0.0% in 2013. According to the 2013 World Bank report, this small percentage had remained constant since 2011. Indeed, the UN stipulated in 2010 that San Marino had no forest area at all, and data related to ownership, removal of wood, carbon, biomass, and growing stock related to forestry were considered at essentially zero. Pakistan’s percentage of land covered in forest was in decline in 2013. In 2012 the forested land in Pakistan was at 2.1%, which had declined to 2.0% by 2013. According to research carried out by Pakistan’s Department of Plant Sciences, deforestation was pointed out as one of the primary environmental problems inflicting the country. Deforestation in Pakistan is likely to lower the percentage of its land covered in forests in future if the issue is not addressed in due time.
It can take time to reduce the forest cover of a nation, but reforestation efforts, sadly, can take much longer still. Deforestation is a problem that, if not addressed, can virtually wipe out a nation’s forests within a short period of time. Nonetheless, effectively implemented afforestation and reforestation efforts can go a long way in increasing forest cover in virtually any part of the world.