Forest ThreatNet

Volume 9, Issue 2 - May/June 2016

Landscape Pattern Analysis Reveals Global Loss of Interior Forest

An aerial photo of land overlaid with colors indicating tree loss between 2000 and 2012Between 2000 and 2012, the world lost more forest area than it gained, according to U.S. Forest Service researchers and partners who estimated a global net loss of 1.71 million square kilometers of forest—an area about two and a half times the size of Texas. Furthermore, when researchers analyzed patterns of remaining forest, they found a global loss of interior forest—core areas that, when intact, maintain critical habitat and ecological functions. “In addition to the direct loss of forest, there was a widespread shift of the remaining global forest to a more fragmented condition,” says Kurt Riitters, Eastern Threat Center research ecologist and team leader and the lead author of a study describing the phenomenon, published in Landscape Ecology. “Forest area loss alone underestimates ecological risks from forest fragmentation. The spatial pattern of forest is important because the same area of forest can be arranged in different ways on the landscape with important consequences for ecosystem processes.” Read the news release, along with media coverage from Mongabay and The Conversation.

Pictured: In this aerial photo of land near Hiram, Georgia, tree cover as of 2012 is shown in transparent green; tree cover loss from 2000 to 2012 is shown in transparent blue. Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of National Agriculture Imagery Program.

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