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FAO examines deforestation rates

ROME, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Earth lost an average of 10 hectares of forest per minute during a 15-year period starting in 1990, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization determined.

Using data from satellites for its analysis, the FAO concluded that the planet lost forested land to other uses by an annual rate of 4.9 million hectares from 1990-2005.

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"Deforestation is depriving millions of people of forest goods and services that are crucial to food security, economic well-being and environmental health," Eduardo Rojas-Briales, the FAO assistant director general for forestry, said in a statement.

The FAO found the rate of deforestation accelerated from 2000-05 when compared with a study period from 1990-2000.

The sensing study found forests in 2005 covered about 30 percent of Earth's land area. Asia was the only region not to show a decrease in forested land in the 15-year survey period.

The net loss of forested area from 1990-2005 was found to be less than previous estimates, however, because gains in forested areas were greater than thought.

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