Environment

Decline in forest cover

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanAug 24, 2010 4:29 PM

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I've spent most of my life in relatively forested areas, and took forestry courses in secondary school (which is why I can still distinguish doug fir from spruce by looking at the needles). In my youth I even had friends who were loggers during the summer. But I haven't taken a deep scientific interest in forests for a long time. So I decided to look at the Google public data set to get a sense of long term trends. As you can see, there hasn't been much of an aggregate decline in forests. How about the nations with a lot of forest cover? I was surprised that the slopes didn't have a stronger negative value. What about you? If this is your area of expertise, what's going on? Are we trading climax ecosystems for second growth and lumber plantations? I was surprised that the USA had nearly as much forest cover as Canada, but I guess a lot of the Great White North is tundra. Also, removing Russia to make the scale easier, and adding China and India, you can see the impact of the recent Chinese reforestation drive pretty clearly:

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