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End of deforestation in view? Experts advance new way to size up global forest resources

data from the Global Forest Resources Assessment of 2005, published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the researchers plot on a graph the shift from 1990 to 2005 in the forest density and area of 50 countries to reveal the change in their respective growing stock.

Charting forest changes, 1990 to 2005, in the world's 50 most forested nations. (Please see: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/7041/2254/1600/Forest ID graph.jpg) Forest area expanded in nations right of the vertical line; tree density expanded in nations above the horizontal line. Nations above the diagonal line gained growing stock.

The authors say Japan's forest cover area is virtually unchanged since World War II (22.2 million hectares in 1947 vs. 23.7 million hectares today). However the density of its forests has risen, producing an average 1.6% annual increase in the volume of growing stock.

"China has experienced falling forest density in many parts of the country since 1949, but its area of forested land has steadily risen," notes ecologist Dr. Fang of Beijing. "The net result: an increase in China's growing stock, biomass, and carbon sequestration."

The graph shows Indonesia down roughly 2% per year in forested area and down 4% in density. At the other end of the spectrum is Spain, which increased its forested area by 2% per year and its density by almost 1%.

With one exception, the growing stock grew from 1990 to 2005 in the 50 most forested nations with more than about $4,600 GDP per capita. In the exception, Canada improbably reported identical area and growing stock in 1990 and 2005.

Evidently, prosperity and measures such as good governance that raise income need not shrink forests, according to the paper.

Forest "transitions"

While forest density data are relatively new, forest area data spanning 200 year
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Contact: Professor Pekka Kauppi
pekka.kauppi@helsinki.fi
358-919-158-300
University of Helsinki
13-Nov-2006


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