We have all heard about all this deforestation thing. It’s actually a pretty common topic when talking about forests (duh). I mean, I know of many whose first thought when talking about the Amazon, for instance, are some couple of bulldozers and tractors ruinning the terrain and its beautiful ecosystem. I, you, he, she, we, you and they. We all talk about it and may or may not be for or against deforestation. But what about the numbers? What about all these popular reforestation plans? In november 2013, a report came out from a science magazine written by M.C. Hansen and this is the summerize of said report:
Forests worldwide are in a state of flux, with accelerating losses in some regions and gains in others. Globally, 2.3 million square kilometers of forest were lost during the 12-year study period and 0.8 million square kilometers of new forest were gained.
The tropics exhibited both the greatest losses and the greatest gains (through regrowth and plantation), with losses outstripping gains.
That’s quite a difference if you ask me –2.3 milion Km of lost forests vs. 0.8 million Km of new forests. In my opinion, the second figure should be much higher. Or at least the first one should be much smaller than it is. The US deserves special mention in this topic, I think. Check the state of Florida and its surroundings in the map. It’s really striking. I’ve always had the image of the Amazon in South America as the most concentrated deforestation spot worldwide. Today I learnt Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi are actually more concentrated spots of deforestation than the biggest jungle on Earth.
EDIT: Regarding the map again, there are those of the opinion that Sweden and Finland are certainly wrong and that the amount of deforestation in the south of the US seems absurd. Sweden and Finland manage sustainably their forests in order to cut just what it is needed to not lead to prolonged deforestation. The rest of Europe should learn from them as biomass will be intensely used as raw material in chemistry, energy industries, etc. Investigating a bit more I got to an interactive map published by the University of Maryland showing both loss and gain of forest worldwide. It was also published by Hansen and it’s worth a look. The map shows the aforementioned US states in the legend as ‘both loss and gain’ of forest. The biggest loss of forest in the Amazon takes place in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. And both Canada and Alaska and South-Eastern Russia in the other end of the world represent big thickness of forest loss. Bordeaux in France is also a bit surprising to me.