By Oliver Milman
An area of forest the size of France has regrown around the world over the past 20 years, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off, a new analysis has found.
Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, the research found, providing the potential to soak up and store 5.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the annual emissions of the entire US.
The two-year study, conducted via satellite imaging data and on-ground surveys across dozens of countries, identified areas of regrowth in the Atlantic forest in Brazil, where an area the size of the Netherlands has rebounded since 2000 due to conservation efforts and altered industry practices.
Another regrowth area is found in the boreal forests of Mongolia, where 1.2m hectares of forest have regenerated in two decades due to the work of conservationists and the Mongolian government. Forests also made a comeback in parts of central Africa and Canada.
However, the world is still experiencing an overall loss of forests “at a terrifying rate”, the researchers warned, with deforestation occurring much faster than restoration schemes.
Over a similar period outlined in the regrowth study, which was led by WWF as part of the Trillion Trees project, 386m hectares of tree cover were lost worldwide, around seven times the area of regenerated forest.