In late 1999, the Terra satellite was launched into space orbit. Among its other tools, it has cameras for taking regular images of the surface of the entire Earth with a resolution of 30 meters per pixel. The satellite is still working and as a result of the analysis of images, it was possible to establish, over the past 12 years (from 2000 to 2012) an increase in the area of forests on the planet was 0.8 million km2, and a reduction of 2.3 million km2. Thus, the total area of forests on the planet has decreased by 1.5 million km2. Is it a lot or a little? 1.5 million square kilometers is the approximate area of the state of Mongolia.
The article further states that none of the types of forests shows an excess of growth over loss. If in poor countries the forests are simply cut down for firewood, building materials and in order to make room for fields, in rich countries the forests are mostly killed by fires and pests. In the study there is even a detailed decoding of the balance between the loss and growth of forests in each country of the world (on page 10). Among more than 200 countries of the world, there are only a few states where over these 12 years forests have become more: Chile , New Zealand , Uruguay , Cuba , Hungary , Ireland , Serbia ,Bosnia and Herzegovina , Tunisia , Moldova , Mauritius , Egypt , Cape Verde and Hong Kong .
The list of these small countries does not cause me any associations with loud environmental events. A significant proportion of these countries is only famous for the large outflow of the economically active population to other regions ( labor migration ). Therefore, forest restoration observed there may simply be a statistical fluctuation (a successful coincidence of several natural and anthropogenic factors).
In all other countries, the forest area over these 12 years has decreased significantly. All the latest loud reports about reforestation in Europe , North America and China may be only ” Potemkin villages . ” As mentioned above, forests in rich countries are dying irreparably due to forest fires and parasites. This may be due to the fact that human activity has reached such an active intervention in the biosphere and the climate of the planet that as a result of this, the complex biosphere quickly collapses even in the case of active measures to preserve it.