State of the World's Forests 2016 - FAO

Global net forest loss averaged 3.3 million hectares annually from 2010-2015

According to a new report by the FAO the total global forest area declined by 129 million hectares (3.1%) in the period from 1990 to 2015 and is now just under 4 billion hectares. To put this in perspective this means the World’s total forest areas over this ten year period declined by an area roughly the size of the Republic of South Africa, or by an area greater than that of the states of Texas and California combined.
From 1990 to 2000 the annual rate of net forest loss globally was 7.3 million hectares annually, but this slowed to an average loss of 3.3 million hectares per year from 2010 to 2015. This data is contained in a new report by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) titled 2016 State of the World’s Forests and is also reported in a separate FAO report titled Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015.
There are significant regional variations in the data on forest loss. For example, commercial agriculture accounted for almost 70% of the deforestation in Latin America but for only one-third in Africa, where small-scale agriculture is a more significant driver of deforestation. The greatest net loss of forests and net gain in agricultural land over the period 1990-2015 was in the low-income group of countries, where rural populations are growing. Large-scale commercial agriculture accounts for about 40% of deforestation in the tropics and subtropics, local subsistence agriculture for 33% and the remainder is accounted for by infrastructure 10%, urban expansion 10% and mining 7%. The conversion of forest land to agricultural use remains the main driver of deforestation. In 2000–2010 the loss of forest in the tropical domain (7 million hectares per year) was similar to the increase in agricultural area (6 million hectares per year). In the Amazon region, cattle ranching, soybean farming and oil-palm plantations have been major drivers of deforestation since 1990 and oil-palm plantations have replaced substantial areas of natural forest in Southeast Asia during this period.

2016 State of the World’s Forests. FAO

Global Forest Resource Assessment 2015. FAO