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Seeing less of the forest for fewer trees

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 15, 2013

The University of Maryland has published this study of Global Forest Change, meaning forest loss, as illustrated by this image:
“The map shows forest change from 2000-12. Green areas are forested; red suffered forest loss; blue showed forest gain; pink experienced both loss and gain. Results from time-series analysis of 654,178 Landsat images in characterizing forest extent and change, 2000–2012.”

The high-resolution global map linked to above is actually an interactive online tool that zooms in to provide highly detailed local images, down to a 30m resolution. The article by James Morgan in the BBC News reports that 888,035 square miles were lost during that period in question, offset by 30,888 square miles of new forest gained, for a net loss of 579,153 square miles in total. Brazil decreased its forest loss by half between 2004-4 and 2010-11, whereas Indonesia had the biggest increase in deforestation, more than doubling its annual loss in 2011-12. Paraguay, Malaysia and Cambodia had the highest rates of forest loss. Additional conclusions: “In the United States, the “disturbance rate” of south-eastern forests was four times that of South American rainforests – more than 31% of forest cover was either lost or regrown.” and “Overall, tropical forest loss is increasing by about 2,100 sq km per year.”

Between 2001 and 2012 “the Earth lost a combined ‘forest’ the size of Mongolia, enough trees to cover the UK six times.”

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