The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said on Thursday that the worldwide pace of deforestation slowed in the last decade—the first time this has happened in recorded history—and that Asia saw a net gain in forest cover, aided by afforestation efforts in India, China and Vietnam.
Forest cover is an essential feature of the environment, and its loss has serious implications for carbon emissions. Conventional wisdom has in the past suggested a trade-off between growth and conservation, with increasing industrialization thought to take a toll on forests. A useful counterpoint to this is the Environmental Kuznets Curve, which shows that conservation initially falls as an economy expands, but revives once a certain growth mark is reached.
India needs to grow steadily for decades to come, as it has done in the past 10 years. There have been concerns that this can compromise its environment. FAO’s findings suggest India may have passed that crucial growth point on the Kuznets Curve.