Since 1960, the Earth’s forest cover has decreased by almost a million km², but arable land and pastures have increased by about the same area.
Since land use plays a central role in mitigating the effects of climate change, it is important to study how it changes and develops.
Karina Winkler, geographer at Wageningen University
Plants and soil, especially in rainforests, absorb about 30% of the carbon volume, so it is important to track global landscape changes and keep an eye on the balance.
In the new work, the authors found that since 1960, the total forest cover of the Earth has decreased by almost a million km², while the area covered by arable land and pasture has increased by about the same.
However, these global figures do not reflect regional differences. For example, forest areas in the North, Europe, Russia, East Asia and North America have increased over the past 60 years, while forest losses in the South and in developing countries have been unreasonably high.
The study also found that about 17% of the earth’s surface has changed status at least once since 1960.