back to article 'Great Reversal' as world's forests stage a comeback

Boffins report that forests worldwide are becoming bigger carbon sinks in a so-called "Great Reversal" after centuries of deforestation and decline. "With so much bad news available on World Environment Day [5 June] we are pleased to report that, of 68 nations studied, forest area is expanding in 45 and density is also …


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  1. John Hughes

    Nice to have some good news.

    "Around the world, according to the scientists, "most regions and almost all temperate nations have stopped losing forest "

    According to the report, between 1990 and 2010:

    Europe increased carbon mass in forests by 17%

    North America increased by 5%

    Asia held steady.

    Africa fell by 7%

    Asia fell by 8%

    (All numbers by eye from chart at )

    Why didn't they add this up?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well that's all right then

    What a shame biodiversity is so much lower in temperate regions where forestation (generally with coniferous species) is on the up, than in the tropics where the greatest species diversity is and where deforestation is still rampant.

    1. Filippo

      Re: why didn't they add this up

      You can't add percentiles that refer to different regions. Math just doesn't work that way.

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. John Hughes

        I know that

        I meant why didn't they give the percentages after adding up all the numbers,

        Since they don't give the numbers I can't get any useful information from their regional percentages.

    3. mhenriday

      As a matter of fact, AC,

      not only is the biodiversity found in temperate zone forests less than that of their tropical counterparts, but the increase in «density» in the former has led to lowered biodiversity there as well. What we are seeing here in Scandinavia at least - and I suspect in the rest of of the Northern boreal zone as well - is a substantial increase in the area devoted to so-called «tree plantations» with very limited biodiversity, while the area of natural forests which support a vastly greater range of life has declined significantly. This particular issue, of course, is not even addressed in the PloS ONE article to which Mr Page provides a link....


  3. James 93
    Thumb Up

    Good News!!

    Not out of the wood yet though......

  4. Filippo

    Not actually good news for treehuggers

    Environuts *want* the carbonapocalypse to happen. A minority of them actually make money off it, through either scaremongering and the associated grants and funds, or by sucking down government incentives for "renewables" of dubious efficacy. But, besides the actual parasites, a whole lot of them are simply so scared of being wrong that they'd rather face catastrophe and megadeaths. Just post "nobody died of radiation poisoning at Fukushima" on an anti-nuclearist board, and see how this "good news" is received.

  5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. lIsRT

      abc and/or 123


    2. schnide


      It actually makes me feel a little bit dirty writing out a full and easy rational response to why you refuse to understand any arguments in the real world and prefer just calling people names, so let me respond in kind by saying you're an idiot.

      1. Luther Blissett

        Never mind your full and easy rational but secret arguments

        I think this is wonderful news not just for non-believers in Climate $cientology, but more trees means that Gaia is now able to sustainably support even more tree-huggers than before!!! And not only that, but if I read the piece correctly, each tree-hugger could now have even more tree to hang onto while they do whatever it is they do when they hug trees!!!

        What's not to like about this diversity?

    3. LightWave


      Exposure to high doses of radiation doesn't mean your face melts and you collapse into a pile of green goo. It can take years for you to succumb in the form of cancer.

      But this other shash you came out with - that people who care about the environment want to see it destroyed in order to avoid embarassment?

      You could then assert that the CND would prefer to see a nuclear holocaust rather than face the ignominoy of world free from radioactive mushroom clouds. Oh the shame!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Surely area is important?

    After all, it's not the number of trees that affects the amount of carbon dioxide taken out of the atmosphere, but the amount of photosynthetic activity, so leaf area (exposed to light) should be more critical. In less dense planting, won't trees spread and develop more leaves and use the sunlight more efficiently than a number of more crowded trees struggling to grow? Just a thought from 'A'-level biology a good few years ago. The radiant energy in a given area available to drive photosynthesis isn't affected by the number of trees.

    Open to correction, naturally

    1. Demosthenese

      More than one constraining factor

      Three factors play a role - available sunlight, rate at which CO2 can be absorbed, and uptake of water. Denser forests may increase the rates for two of these.

    2. Pigeon

      Sort of

      I read something today which said that the carbon is only captured until the plants die and rot. Woody trees will store carbon for longer, but even they rot, unless they become peat and coal. So some forests aren't even long term carbon sinks anyway, unless they become waterlogged and fossilised, like good old Scottish peat bogs.

      1. PT


        You assume the carbon capture is a one-off thing. In fact, big trees make little trees, so the eventual release of one generation's carbon is countered by the take-up of the next. A healthy forest is close to a perpetual carbon sink, in human if not geological time.

  7. nyelvmark

    Some data

    Atmospheric CO2 as measured at Mauna Loa in April 393.18 ppm, up from 315.71 in 1958.


  8. Nigel 11

    Global Feedback loop

    Plants grow faster in CO2-enriched atmosphere. Plants grow proportionally more and deeper roots in CO2-enriched atmosphere (easier to come by CO2 so less need for leaves compared to roots).

    This may be a long-term feedback loop that keeps the planet at a temperature suitable for life.

    It's not necessarily able to stop anthropogenic global warming and sea-level rises, though. The average, over hundreds of millions of years, was a lot hotter than today, with no icecaps at all most of the time. Better for large reptiles than for large mammals.

  9. Inachu
    IT Angle

    lies lies lies and the liars that tell them.

    WHat about countries that cut down all their tress thousands of years ago and treat their barren land like a tourist attraction as if it is something to be pround of to have bare land like Ireland?

    When will Ireland regrow their trees?

    1. Zippy the Pinhead


      You do understand that Mauna Loa is aa active volcano and its been erupting pretty much constantly since the 80's. One of the main things it spews is CO2 and loads of it! So taking a measurement when a volcano is at a period of low activity and one when its active is pretty much crap science!

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        @Zippy the Pinhead

        You do know that the vast majority of eruptions at Mauna Loa occur through the flanks rather than from the Mokuʻāweoweo summit caldera, and that the measurements are adjusted for the rate of outgassing from the volcano.

        Thought not.

      2. C 2


        You DO realize that human activities spew roughly 130 TIMES the amount of CO2 that volcanoes do year on year right? And that number is rising.

        .. thought not.

        1. PT


          But we don't have many active volcanoes at the moment, it's been an unusually quiet couple of millennia, so that comparison isn't worth the carbon consumed in reading it . One major incident like Tambora (1815) would reset the balance. I hear Yellowstone is running a bit late. God help us if we ever see the likes of the Deccan Traps eruptions again (10^15 cubic meters).

    2. AndrewH


      You're a little off with your understanding there - *we* (the Irish) didn't cut down all our trees thousands of years ago - the British cut down the majority of our trees in the 18th century in order to build ships.

      As for regrowing them... in 1900, forest cover was 1% of land area. It's now almost 11%, and still rising.

  10. David Kelly 2

    Mother Nature Rules!

    Once again Mother Nature has demonstrated her talent for self-regulation which has kept this planet alive for millennia.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re:"Mother Nature[..]'s self-regulation [..] has kept this planet alive for millennia"

      Mother Nature has already programmed the death of this planet. It is called the Red Giant phase of our Sun, and it will happen in 5 or 6 billion years (give or take a few hundred million or so).

      Before that date, nothing short of a direct collision with a wayward planet can possibly destroy Planet Earth.

      Concerning Life on this planet, however, a number of things can destroy it with great efficiency. A stray Gamma-Ray Burst pointed right at us can boil the ozone in the atmosphere, thus exposing all life to drastically increased levels of UV radiation. Cancer and genetic changes will abound as life struggles to adapt. Most will fail, including probably humans.

      A large asteroid, anywhere above 5 km in diameter, will most probably wipe out all life on the surface of the planet, leaving the deepest parts of the oceans as possible havens for whatever is left.

      Those are just two ways that Mother Nature can put an end to life on Earth.

      But Earth itself will endure. And life will most probably reappear whatever happens, as even in the worst-case scenario a propitious asteroid can re-seed the planet with the required building blocks.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Mother natures sister beat her to it

        "Mother Nature has already programmed the death of this planet. It is called the Red Giant phase of our Sun, and it will happen in 5 or 6 billion years (give or take a few hundred million or so)."

        Her sister programmed the collision with Andromeda to happen abour 3bn yrs before the sun goes red giant but hey you're the optmistic type :)

  11. Goobertee

    Not quite as good as it could be

    Increasing the density of trees improves the CO2 absorption, and that's good. However, it gives other things--animals and other plants--less area to live and probably decreases biodiversity.

  12. Chris Gray 1

    Forest Fires

    Increasing the tree density of a forest makes it more likely to burn in a forest fire. A forest fire puts out a *lot* of CO2 and smoke, kills lots of wildlife, and can be very dangerous. Just ask the hundreds of folks living in Slave Lake Alberta who recently lost their houses to forest fires. Other fires are still burning up north - it has been a very bad spring and early summer.

    Fire icon because, well, its appropriate here.

  13. Zippy the Pinhead


    Because squirrels and chipmunks and rabbits and deer and bears and wolves and coyotes and birds and all sorts of animals are what allergic to trees? Are you for real? Increasing forested acreage is good!

    Oh I get it.. animals don't live in the forest.. they just visit! Silly me.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      see post

      density != acreage

    2. nyelvmark

      @Zippy the Pinhead

      Nice name.

  14. sabroni Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    The Register parroting a press release rather than taking it to pieces?

    and one that seems just ripe for a piss take if the majority of comments are anything to go by. 20% of fuck all is still fuck all.

    Compare your reaction to this patently unscientific report to the way you looked at Oxfam's grow campaign recently. I for one would take your opinions a bit more seriously if you applied the same scrutiny to all press releases irrespective of origin.

    Or you could just concentrate on the IT stuff, it's what I come here for (when not trolling, obv...)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Oxfam - scientific?

      "Compare your reaction to this patently unscientific report to the way you looked at Oxfam's grow campaign recently."

      El Reg report on Oxfam's latest campaign exposed the fact that some of it is misleading and much of it is plain wrong. Malthusians have been proved wrong every year for the past 200 years.

      I suspect what you dislike most is that it showed how Oxfam is a conservative anti-science lobby that wants to keep poor people in their villages.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        your suspicions..

        ..are wrong. I didn't dislike the oxfam article, it's this one I was commenting on.

  15. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    It's not rocket science, it's simple...

    Carbon Dioxide is plant food.

    The more food, the more trees and plants grow, this in turn uses more CO2 to sustain that plant and keeps us the same, not worse off.

    The world will not have been cooked/drowned by fossil fuel gas in 50 years like the tree huggers claim but you will be cutting your lawn more often.

    Now stop with the disaster scenarios BBC and Daily Mail!

    1. The First Dave

      @Tigra 07

      Actually, no. Mature trees pull in very little CO2 - it is far better to have lots of young trees, and best thing of all is to cut them down and replant as soon as they reach maturity. The common fad of crying out to "save paper" is thus inherently wrong - we should actually all try and store as much paper and wood, for as long as possible.

  16. Zippy the Pinhead

    @ Mike

    I've been there and walked it, have you? I've been to where they measured the data at the caldara observatory in 2001.. Twice in fact that year (stock options were great that year!)

    And yes I do understand that CO2 is a gas and it MOVES all over the place

    Its even forced straight out of the ground there and not just at the calderas and nowhere on that chart of that co2now website were the words "adjusted for outgassing of the volcano" printed. No this is a measurement of the CO2 gasses at the volcano. Its used for air quality measurements on the Big Island.

    So before you attack.. CYA

  17. BinaryFu


    We're all going to LIIIIIIVVVVVEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

    Wait, that's a good thing, right?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    S'funny really

    Not one mention of

    "Well it looks good"

    "It's better for people and animals and birds and fish and things"

    "We respect our environment and want our wealth making operations to have minimal impact on nature"

    and so forth.

    This "Here are the accountants key observations" approach is pretty dull really.

    For example, have you seen the forest and mountains and lakes and river sources in Japan on NHK?

    I wonder if the Japanese are like the Scots?

    They seem to be for sure.

  19. Mark 110 Silver badge

    Vogons are coming anyway

    nuff said

  20. troppo
    Thumb Up

    Re: 'Great Reversal' as world's forests stage a comeback

    I can confirm this at 19° South 146° East.

    We all know about tree rings as a proxy for pre-measurement climate conditions, but perhaps it would be useful to monitor more recent patterns?

    I have been sawing up timber, mess from Cyclone Yasi. 20 years of tree rings from rainforest acacia, eucalypts etc. They have been sucking up a load of carbon over the past few years. Level of sunlight obviously not an issue here. Variation in ring size shows some match to rainfall (El Nino / La Nina cycle), but precipitation since 2005 has been higher than the long-term average anyway.

    I have some images, not sure how to post them - may put them on my website:

    A problem here is ensuring that the dry fuel load doesn't get out of hand ...

    1. bugalugs


      thanx bro, your draft on AGW very interesting !

  21. Anonymous Coward

    The Oceans produce 75% of the air you breath and take absorb alot of CO2

    the rain Forest and other land plants produce 25% of the air we breathe. Haven't any of you heard of te balance of nature that God created?

  22. Spotthelemon

    Forget copies, go for the original

    I think people should read the original article at

    I suspect the majority will come away with a rather different impression of this article than they had from reading The Register article.

    Also things have changed somewhat since the article was written

    Last December, a Barzilian government report said deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had fallen to its lowest rate for 22 years. However, the latest data shows a 27% jump in deforestation from August 2010 to April 2011. Satellite images show deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles) in the same period of 2011, - Brazil space research institute

    At the same time Brazil has passed a batch of reforms easing the decades-old Forest Code which restricted deforestation.

  23. Maxson


    Is Global Warming over yet? That crap is ruining a perfectly good drive towards a dystopian fuel-dependant future (depending on who you believe).

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