Forests Growing Like Weeds Over Last 20 Years
Hey, a bit of good environmental news: Forests in Europe, North America, the Caucasus, and Central Asia have expanded steadily over the last two decades, increasing by more than 25 million hectares — an area slightly larger than the United Kingdom — since 1990, a UN report says. In Europe alone, forested areas increased by 17 million hectares from 1990 to 2010, with the volume of forests growing by more than 430 million cubic meters annually, according to the Global Forest Resource Assessment 2010.
Most of the forest expansion occurred in Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, where areas targeted for conservation of biological diversity have increased almost 1 million hectares annually since 1990. Forest growth in these regions — and the consequent addition of about 5 billion tons of carbon storage capacity — is particularly critical since forest cover has decreased globally, particularly in tropical regions.
However, the report found that climate variability poses an increased threat to forests, particularly in North America, where outbreaks of mountain pine beetles — linked to warmer winters — have devastated more than 11 million hectares since the late 1990s.
Another UN report this past week also cautioned on the need to protect forests to help maintain clean water. It’s estimated that 1.8 billion people will face what it calls “absolute water scarcity” within the next 14 years and that two-thirds of the world’s population could face shortages.
“Forests are part of the natural infrastructure of any country and are essential to the water cycle,” said the UN’s Eduardo Rojas-Briales. “They reduce the effects of floods, prevent soil erosion, regulate the water table and assure a high-quality water supply for people, industry and agriculture.” VIA Adventure Journal