No Magic Trick: Disappearing Forests

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)


Deforestation is not a new concept in America, and yet each year we discover further benefits of forests (and trees themselves), as well as the ramifications of removing them en masse.

And yet, as the Denver Post reports, it may be far more grim than we realized:

A new study of satellite images taken over 10 years starting in 1990 shows the rural forest canopy disappearing. Forest space disappeared from the United States in such big chunks that the average distance from any point in the nation to a forest increased by 14 percent, about one-third of a mile.

The story (a great read), paints an obvious but overlooked connection. In cities, where trees and green areas are often congregated around and protected, this preservation has kept the greenspace (mostly) intact. But, in rural areas, it’s overlooked:

One of the findings of the study is a twist that Yang, a graduate student, and Mountrakis, an assistant professor at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, didn’t expect. The disappearance isn’t happening in cities, where people often complain about the uprooting of trees for development. It’s happening in rural America, where trees are falling and hardly anyone hears.

Who shoudl care? Well, I’ve written about that previously, but the short answer is, of course, everyone:

It alters the local climate, decreases biodiversity and leads to soil erosion. “This is the major driver – we can link the loss of the isolated patches to all these environmental degradations,” [Mountrakis] said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.