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The Economist Special Report on Forests
From The Economist this week: A Special Report on the World's Forests
"THE summer dry-season, now drawing to an end, is when the Amazon rainforest gets cut and burned. The smoke this causes can often be seen from space. But not this year. Brazil’s deforestation rate has dropped astoundingly fast. In 2004 some 2.8m hectares (10,700 square miles) of the Amazon were razed; last year only around 750,000 hectares were.
This progress is not isolated. Many of the world’s biggest clearers of trees have started to hug them. Over the past decade, the UN records, nearly 8m hectares of forest a year were allowed to re-grow or were planted anew. This was mostly in richer places, such as North America and in Europe, where dwindling rural populations have taken the pressure off forestland. But a couple of big poorer countries, notably China, have launched huge tree-planting schemes in a bid to prevent deforestation-related environmental disasters. Even in tropical countries, where most deforestation takes place, Brazil is not alone in becoming more reluctant to chop down trees.
The progress made in recent years shows that mankind is not doomed to strip the planet of its forest cover. But the transition from tree-chopper to tree-hugger is not happening fast enough. Over the past decade, according to UN figures, around 13m hectares of forestland—an area the size of England—was converted each year to other uses, mostly agriculture. If the world is to keep the protective covering that helps it breathe, waters its crops, keeps it cool and nurtures its biodiversity, it is going to have to move fast (see our special report this week)."
Contents of The Economist Special Report on Forests – Sept. 23, 2010
Posted By Jenna DiPaolo at 3:24pm on September 23, 2010
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