Published on April 29th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan3
Lower Percentage of Forest Loss in Brazil & Indonesia than in US & Canada
There is a large global effort to stop the deforestation of Brazilian and Indonesian forests. This is an important thing to do in order to stop or slow global warming, to preserve biodiversity and numerous unique species of plants and animals, and for human health. But did anyone know that the US and Canada are losing a higher percentage of their forests than Indonesia and Brazil?
A new study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America gives details of worldwide deforestation and shows that over one million square kilometers of forest were chopped down worldwide from 2000-2005. One of the most interesting findings from this study, however, was that although Brazil had the highest total amount of it forests (rainforest and tropical dry forest) cleared, the US and Canada had much higher percentages of their forests lost. I would repeat what Matthew McDermott over at TreeHugger exclaimed: “All I can say is wow!”
Brazil lost about 165,000 square kilometers of forest from 2000-2005 (3.6% of its total forest cover from the start of that time period), whereas the US and Canada, respectively, lost 120,000 and 160,000 square kilometers in that time period (6.0% and 5.2% of their total forest cover). The average forest cover loss worldwide for that time period was 3.5%.
The US had the highest percentage of its forest cover lost of the seven nations containing over one million square kilometers of forest.
“While fire and beetle infestation played a role in Alaska and the western US, large-scale logging in the southeast, along the western coast, and in the Midwest play a big role in the nation’s continuing forest decline,” Jeremy Hance of Mongabay reports.
The researchers note an imbalance in media coverage of where forest cover is lost (especially when you look at percentages): “the often publicized phenomenon of forest conversion within the humid tropics is observed in our results, but significant GFCL [i.e. global forest cover loss] is evident in all biomes. For example, rates of GFCL in regions such as the southeast United States are among the highest globally.”
Help out to stop massive deforestation in the US and abroad by purchasing recycled or non-wood-based products as much as possible. Also, help to address climate change, so that forest infestations of invasive insects as well as deadly droughts and forest fires are minimized. Going vegetarian also helps to prevent deforestation that results from land conversion.
For more info and graphs on other forest loss details, visit Mongabay’s coverage of and supplements to the study or the researchers’ article itself on the PNAS website.