Forests in the Northern Hemisphere are on the Rebound13th April, 2011
This past March the UN released a report stating that forests in the Northern Hemisphere have been continually expanding over the past two decades. Due to conservation efforts forests in North America, Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia have all expanded. According to the organization these areas have grown by 25 million hectares (roughly 60 million acres). This growth accounts for an 8 percent increase of total Northern Hemisphere forests, which in terms of land mass equals roughly the size of the United Kingdom. Within this study the UN Economic Commission for Europe said that, “In addition to forest area, the volume of wood in pan-European forests is growing by over 430 million cubic metres every year due to the expansion of the forest area and increases in stock levels,”.
These primarily broreal and temperate forests in the Northern Hemisphere are estimated to comprise 40 percent of the worlds total forestry, playing an important role in the reacquisition of global carbon dioxide. Although this positive trend is worth taking note of, deforestation in the tropics is still a very concerning environmental issue whose trend has not begun to reverse. To read more about the UN report visit it directly at the UN News Centre.
Part of the significance of this report is the optimistic perspective that it lends to the global crisis of tropical deforestation in the Southern Hemisphere. As a parallel example in deforestation, Western Europe has been on a continual trend of deforestation since the advent of agricultural society. According to the Quaternary Science Reviews’ publication on The prehistoric and preindustrial deforestation of Europe “The overall trend in LCLUC (Land Cover and Land Use Change) over our time domain is a constant decline in forest cover, interrupted by two local maxima: at AD 600, during the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages, and at AD 1400 shortly after the Black Death.” Aside from these two brief lapses in history, Europe’s forests had been on the continual decline, that is, until today’s modern era.
This report on the renewal of forests in, not only Europe, but the Northern Hemisphere as a whole, highlights the fact that for first time in human history we have counteracted a policy of forest degradation. As countries in the Southern Hemisphere continue to develop we can hope, and maybe even assume based on forest rehabilitation in the Northern Hemispheres, that those countries will follow the same historical trend.