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Nicaragua Forest Figures

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 5,189,000 ha
% of land area: 42.7%

Primary forest cover: 1,849,000 ha
% of land area: 15.2%
% total forest area: 35.6%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -70,000 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -1.3%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: -17.3%
Total forest loss since 1990: -1,349,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-20.6%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990:0.0%

Forest Classification
Public: n/a
Private: n/a
Other: n/a
Production: n/a
Protection: n/a
Conservation: 35.6%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 64.4%
None or unknown: n/a

Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 5,189,000 ha
Primary: 1,849,000 ha
Modified natural: 3,289,000 ha
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: 51,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a

Plantations, 2005: 51,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 1%
Annual change rate (00-05): 1,000,000 ha

Carbon storage
Above-ground biomass: 1,154 M t
Below-ground biomass: 278 M t

Area annually affected by
Fire: n/a
Insects: n/a
Diseases: 33,000 ha

Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 1,000
Critically endangered: 3
Endangered: 16
Vulnerable: 20

Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 106,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 1,740,000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $8,480,000
Wood fuel: $34,800,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $43,280,000

More forest statistics for Nicaragua

Nicaragua has some of the most extensive rainforests in Central America, even though most of the forests been cleared for agriculture, cattle grazing, and commercial logging, and by forest fires. The restructuring of the economy to repay foreign debts is said to be contributing to the destruction of the countries' natural resources. Overall, Nicaragua lost 21 percent of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005, though its deforestation rate has fallen 17 percent since the close of the 1990s.

In the mid- to late 1990s, the government granted a number of logging concessions that significantly increased forest degradation. By 1998 the loss of forest was substantial enough for Nicaragua's president to issue a decree banning the logging of cedar, mahogany, and bombox trees for a five-year period. The decree canceled existing logging permits for these timber species. Nevertheless, Nicaragua's forests continue to suffer from illegal logging operations. Today, by one estimate, illegal logging constitutes about half of total timber production. The trade feeds corruption and has known links to criminal syndicates and gangs.

A second threat to Nicaragua's rainforests is mining. The use of open-pit mines in the San Juan rivershed is of particular concern to environmentalists.

Deforestation was cited as a contributing factor to the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Aerial surveys conducted after the storm indicated that landslides occurred more frequently on hillsides that had been cleared of their vegetation for agriculture and human settlements. Naturally vegetated hillsides were found to suffer fewer mudslides.

Nicaragua's government has encouraged the development of forest plantations, which have expanded from 4,000 hectares in 1990 to more than 50,000 hectares by 2005. About 6 percent of the country is under some form of protection.

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Unless otherwise specified, this article was written by Rhett A. Butler [Bibliographic citation for this page]

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Last updated: 6 Feb 2006