Forests: lost in the wild

Published: Thursday 30 September 1999

-- Forests are the planet's largest and most important ecosystems. They exert a profound influence on the structure and function of the human habitat locally and globally -- providing more than environmental and material services. In short, they help conserve the human habitat. Unfortunately, in the post-industrialisation period humans have failed miserably to live in tune with nature. Increasing population pressures, urbanisation, and logging activities have caused damage from which forests may never recover.

How green is my continent ?

Deforestation is highest in the tropical zones, except in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
Region Reduction in forest cover during the past 8,000 years (all forests)* (%) Reduction in forest cover during the past 8,000 years (intact closed forests) (%) Annual rates of deforestation 1990-1995 (%)
CIS 25 70 not significant
Europe 60 100 not significant
Asia1 70 95 high,especially in tropics
Oceania 40 80 high,especially in tropics
Africa 50 90 high,especially in tropics moderate in non-tropics
Latin America 402 603 high in tropics very high in Central America
Caribbean 70 90 very high
North America 253 552 high in tropics, insignificant in non-tropics

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