A new study refutes previous claims by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture organization that the world’s forests have been shrinking for more than two decades.
The U.N.’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 reported in 2016 that the world’s forests had shrunk by 2015 to cover only 30.6 percent of the planet’s surface from 31.6 percent in 1990 — a reduction of 3.16 percent over 15 years.
However, a study published in August in the international science journal Nature puts the U.N.’s claims into a broader context, one in which the earth is actually seeing more trees thriving.
Nature reported that tree cover had increased by over 2.2 million square kilometers between 1982 and 2016.
Some environmentalists are concerned about deforestation because of “land-use change” taking place around the globe.
An increase in urbanization and development, as well as agricultural expansion, means land that once was forested is now used for other purposes.
The U.N study advocated for forest preservation, stating that wooded areas “deliver vital long-term environmental services, such as clean air and water, biodiversity and mitigation of climate change.”
Those points are hard to argue against. However, the new study showed an increase in forest coverage across the globe, making it difficult to substantiate the claim that deforestation leads to global warming.
In fact, tree canopy coverage has increased by 35 percent in European Russia, 34 percent in China and 15 percent in the U.S., according to The Daily Wire.
“Forests in montane regions are expanding as climate warming enables trees to grow higher up on mountains,” Reason reported.
“These new findings contradict earlier studies that reported a continuing net loss of forest cover.”
Researchers have used satellites to observe the change in land structure from bare lands to increases in canopy coverage.
They have found “forest area is expanding even as areas of bare ground and short vegetation are shrinking.”
The study shows that the three countries with the most deforestation are in South America: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, mainly from expansion of agriculture.
“If the Nature study is correct, the world gained 2.24 million square kilometers rather than lost 1.29 million square kilometers in forest area in the past three decades,” Reason concluded.
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