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Forest density increasing across the world: Study

US: In Europe and North America, increased forest density significantly raised carbon storage despite little or no expansion of forest area, according to a study using remote sensing technology. It was conducted by scientists at Rockefeller University, US, Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station, US, and the University of Helsinki, Finland. The findings were published in PLoS One.
The study, A National and International Analysis of Changing Forest Density, revealed that overall, of 68 nations studied, forest area is expanding in 45 and density is also increasing in 45. Changing area and density combined had a positive impact on the carbon stock in 51 countries. Even in the South American nations studied, more density helped maintain regional carbon levels in the face of deforestation.
Information from 68 nations together accounts for 72 percent of the world’s forested land and 68 percent of reported carbon mass. The study’s findings constitute a new signal of what they call the Great Reversal under way in global forests after centuries of loss and decline.
To examine how changing forest area and density affect timber volume and carbon, the study team first focused on the US, where the US Forest Service conducted a continuing inventory of forest area, timberland area and growing stock since 1953. They found that while US timberland area grew only 1 percent between 1953 and 2007, the combined national volume of growing stock increased by an impressive 51 percent. National forest density increased substantially. For an international perspective, the research team examined the 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which provides consistent figures for the years 1990 to 2010.
The data reveal uncorrelated changes of forest area and density. Countries in Africa and South America, which lost about 10 percent of their forest area over the two decades, lost somewhat less carbon, indicating a small rise in forest density. In Asia during the second decade of the study period, density rose in 10 of the region’s 21 countries. Indonesia’s major loss of density and sequestered carbon, however, offset any gain in carbon storage in other Asian nations. Europe, like the US, demonstrated substantial density gains, adding carbon well in excess of the estimated carbon absorbed by the larger forested area.
Source: environmentalresearchweb