In the past 60 years, the area of forests around the world has shrunk dramatically: at the same time as the world’s population has been increasing, per capita forest has fallen by about two-thirds. This was reported by a team led by Ronald Istock of the Forest and Forest Products Research Institute (FFPRI) in Tsukuba, Japan. The results of the research group are now in the journal “Environmental Research Letters” Back.
Estoque’s team analyzed global land use data sets collected between 1960 and 2019. They showed that 437.3 million hectares of forest were lost and 355.6 million hectares were added during this period. A total of 81.7 million hectares of forest have disappeared – an area larger than the entire island of Borneo. From 1.4 hectares of forest per capita 60 years ago, the number shrank to 0.5 hectares in 2019. Middle- and low-income countries experienced the largest decline. In contrast, the highest-income regions of the world managed to get the largest area of forests. The results thus support the “forest transition” theory, according to which changes in forest areas are closely related to the socio-economic development of a country.
According to Stock and his team, it is now up to high-income countries to import fewer goods from the tropics, where trees are being cut down. Meanwhile, low-income countries should be supported in maintaining mostly tropical forest areas.
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