Outlook On A Worldwide Forest Transition
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It is not clear whether a worldwide "forest transition" to net reforestation will ever occur, and the need to address the main driver-agriculture-is compelling. We present a mathematical model of land use dynamics based on the world food equation that explains historical trends in global land use on the millennial scale. The model predicts that a global forest transition only occurs under a small and very specific range of parameter values (and hence seems unlikely) but if it does occur, it would have to occur within the next 70 years. In our baseline scenario, global forest cover continues to decline until it stabilizes within the next two centuries at 22% of global land cover, and wild pasture at 1.4%. Under other scenarios the model predicts unanticipated dynamics wherein a forest transition may relapse, heralding a second era of deforestation; this brings into question national-level forest transitions observed in recent decades, and suggests we need to expand our lexicon of possibilities beyond the simple "forest transition/no forest transition" dichotomy. This research also underscores that the challenge of feeding a growing population while conserving natural habitat will likely continue for decades to come.
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Chris Pagnutti, Chris T. Bauch, Madhur Anand (2013). Outlook On A Worldwide Forest Transition. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/13113
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