A reduction in forest area can happen through either of two processes: deforestation and natural disasters. Deforestation, which is by far the most important, implies that forests are cleared by people and the land converted to another use, such as agriculture or infrastructure. Natural disasters may also destroy forests, and when the area is incapable of regenerating naturally and no efforts are made to replant, it too converts to other land. South America and Africa continue to have the largest net loss of forest. At a regional level, South America suffered the largest net loss of forests between 2000 and 2010 about 4.0 million hectares per year, followed by Africa, which lost 3.4 million hectares annually (Figure 5). Oceania also reported a net loss of forest (about 700 000 ha per year over the period 2000-2010), mainly due to large losses of forests in Australia, where severe drought and forest fires have exacerbated the loss of forest since 2000. The area of forest in North and Central America was estimated as almost the same in 2010 as in 2000. The forest area in Europe continued to expand, although at a slower rate (700 000 ha per year) than in the 1990s (900 000 ha per year). Asia, which had a net loss of forest of some 600 000 ha annually in the 1990s, reported a net gain of forest of more than 2.2 million hectares per year in the period 2000-2010, primarily due to the large-scale afforestation reported by China and despite continued high rates of net loss in many countries in South and Southeast Asia.