WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- Deforestation is continuing at unsustainable rates despite modest efforts at conservation, a U.S. forestry official said in remarks ahead of Earth Day.
Earth Day marks its 40th anniversary April 22. Apart from that milestone, 2011 is also the International Year of Forests.
Daniel Reifsnyder, deputy assistant secretary of state for the environment and sustainable development, said Washington was joining other members of the international community in spotlighting the importance of sound forest management.
"Deforestation continues at unsustainable rates, and each day our forests and the people who depend on them face new challenges," he said in a statement.
Forests, he added, cover more than 30 percent of the total global landmass and support the livelihoods of approximately 1.5 billion people.
Unsustainable forest practices, illegal logging, fires and deforestation are just some of the main threats to the health of the world's forests. Reifsnyder said world leaders have made progress in adopting better management policies, but many threats still remain.
"The pace at which the globe is losing forests is slowing," he said in a statement. "But there is much work left to do."