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Af/deforestation by nation.

February 12, 2011

On a less wordy note, The Economist‘s chart of the day yesterday illustrated some interesting trends in forest cover over the last decade:

These statistics are drawn fro the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s recent State of the World’s Forests report. I don’t know much about international forestry, so I found it interesting that Russia and Canada have net zero change in forest cover, while Norway and Sweden are adding forest area. Having previously heard of China’s efforts at afforestation (especially to combat erosion), I was not surprised to see that China and India have been adding forest area. In terms of afforestation, of course, what’s key is not merely increasing forest area, but smart, sustainable forestry as opposed to monocultural tree plantations – which some of these forests undoubtedly are. China’s “Great Green Wall”, for example, has been criticized as masking China’s decline in forest quality and growing consumption of forest products.

The other thing to keep in mind when thinking about afforestation/deforestation is to think about the myriad of ways in which forests are undervalued: forests are not only important carbon sinks, but they’re also sources of livelihood for indigenous peoples, and protect biodiversity as well as water and air quality. You can learn a bit more on that note from the IUCN, who recently presented their report on the “True Economic Value of Forests” at the UN Forum on Forests.

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