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Trees, forests and land use in drylands: The first global assessment

New FAO study provides the most detailed snapshot to date on trees, forests and land use in the world's drylands. A valuable policymaking and investment tool for sustainable development, addressing climate change​.

At a glance: some preliminary findings of the FAO Global Drylands Assessment:

  • The global drylands contain 1.11 billion hectares of forest land, which is 27 percent of the global forest area, estimated at approximately 4 billion hectares.
  • Two-thirds of the drylands forest area can be defined as being dense, meaning it has closed canopies (i.e. a canopy cover greater than 40 percent).
  • The second most common land use in drylands is grassland (31 percent), followed by forest (18 percent) and cropland (14 percent). The category other lands constitutes 34 percent of the global drylands area.
  • The least-arid zones have the most forest. The proportion of forest land is 51 percent in the dry subhumid zone, 41 percent in the semiarid zone, 7 percent in the arid zone and 0.5 percent in the hyperarid zone. The average crown cover density is ten times higher in the dry subhumid zone than in the hyperarid zone.
  • Trees outside forests are present on 1.9 billion hectares of drylands (31 percent of the global drylands area), if all land with more than 0 percent crown cover is included. Thirty percent of croplands and grasslands have at least some crown cover, as do 60 percent of lands classified as settlements.