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Landscape Pattern Analysis Reveals Global Loss of Interior Forest

Photo of In this aerial photo of land near Hiram, Georgia, tree cover as of 2012 is shown in transparent green; tree cover loss from 2000 to 2012 is shown in transparent blue. U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Imagery Program.In this aerial photo of land near Hiram, Georgia, tree cover as of 2012 is shown in transparent green; tree cover loss from 2000 to 2012 is shown in transparent blue. U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Imagery Program.Snapshot : Between 2000 and 2012, the world lost more forest area than it gained, according to researchers who estimated a global net loss of more than 660 million square miles of forest, an area about two and a half times the size of Texas. Furthermore, when researchers analyzed patterns of remaining forest, they found a much larger global loss of interior forest: core areas that, when intact, maintain critical habitat and ecological functions.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Riitters, Kurt 
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1095

Summary

Forests provide indispensable ecosystem services, but Forest Service scientists and partners estimated a recent global net loss of more than 660 million square miles of forest. In addition to the direct loss of forestland, researchers discovered a global loss of more than 14 million square miles of interior forest, meaning that remaining forests have shifted to a more fragmented condition and are at risk for loss of critical habitat and ecological functions. Across the globe, temperate coniferous forests experienced the largest percentage of loss, tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests lost the most interior forest, and boreal forests and taiga lost interior forest at the highest rate. The scientists note that the reasons for losses, and therefore the consequences, depend on local circumstances. Human activities and land use changes that result in permanent deforestation have a much greater impact than temporary deforestation from natural disturbances, such as a fire. The results of this study can help managers identify areas of concern.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • European Commission Joint Research Centre
  • North Carolina State University
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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