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India among top 3 countries in forest area gains: FAO report

India gained 2,66,000 hectares of forest area annually from 2010 to 2020, securing the third spot among the top 10 countries with the most significant forest area gains during this period, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The report, released on Monday, said China led the world with the maximum forest area gain of 1,937,000 hectares, followed by Australia with 4,46,000 hectares, and India. Other countries in the top 10 include Chile, Vietnam, Turkey, the United States, France, Italy and Romania. The UN agency praised India for its efforts in restoring degraded lands and expanding agroforestry through innovative approaches. This includes the development of a new national policy aimed at better-supporting agroforestry in the country.

The report highlighted a significant reduction in deforestation in some countries. For example, Indonesia saw an 8.4% decline in deforestation from 2021 to 2022, while Brazil's Amazon experienced a 50% reduction in deforestation in 2023. The FAO report also said the rate of gross global mangrove loss decreased by 23% during the periods — 2000 to 2010 and 2010 to 2020.

However, the FAO stressed that climate change is increasing the vulnerability of forests to various stressors, including wildfires and pests.

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