Vienna: The world stands to lose 230 million hectares of forest by 2050 with drastic consequences for the climate, biodiversity and the global economy, the WWF wildlife campaign group said on Wednesday.
"Those responsible -- policy-makers and industry -- are sawing away at the branch we`re all sitting on," WWF`s head of forests, Philipp Goeltenboth, said in a statement, noting that the area projected to be lost is 27 times the size of Austria.
The current rate of deforestation is 35 football fields per minute worldwide, according to the organisation.
Its new WWF Living Forests report advocates a "Zero Net Deforestation and Forest Degradation (ZNDD)" by 2020.
ZNDD is defined as "no net forest loss through deforestation and no net decline in forest quality through degradation," WWF said.
Nevertheless, that does not mean WWF was in favour of no forest clearing anywhere, under any circumstances.
ZNDD recognised, for example, peoples` right to clear some forests for agriculture, or the value in occasionally "trading off" degraded forests "to free up other land to restore important biological corridors, provided that biodiversity values and net quantity and quality of forests are maintained."
"Achieving ZNDD will stem the depletion of forest-based biodiversity and ecosystem services, and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," it said.