Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Good article in today's Science Section of the NY Times on recent deforestation trends (see map below). Overall deforestation is not as rapid as in the past. And a surprise! Can it be that "totalitarian China" is outplanting the other developing nations?

From the article:
"While good progress is being made in many places, unfortunately forest resources are still being lost or degraded at an alarmingly high rate," said Hosny El-Lakany, assistant director-general of forestry for the food and agriculture agency.

The slowing rate of forest loss is encouraging, some forest experts say, but biologists contend that most acreage gained by plantation forestry contains a fraction of the plant and animal diversity destroyed with virgin forests. Forest cover has generally been expanding in North America, Europe and China and diminishing in the tropics.


Asia has seen an extraordinary turnaround in a decade: it lost about 3,000
square miles of forest a year in the 90's but gained nearly 4,000 annually since
2000, said Mette Loyche Wilkie of the F.A.O. But almost all of that change has
occurred because of China's new forest policy, she said. Tropical forests
elsewhere in Asia are still being cleared at a rising pace, the report said.

While Africans and South Americans cut down their trees, the Chinese are planting them (as well as the Spanish and Italians). And this is less of a credit to China and more of wake up call to countries like Brazil and Indonesia. If you're going to cut trees, plant them as well! It's called renewing your renewable resources. For more info see the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN.