It seems that the forests of the world have become shorter and younger in the past decades. This actually means that forests are not as good at removing carbon from the atmosphere as before, and also they don’t really make a perfect home for certain species that actually rely on them when it comes to shelter. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The team of researchers has taken a look at more than 160 previous studies. They have also created models that showed how fast it changed between the 1900 and 2015. They have learned some exciting things. In more than 115 years, the world has lost about 14% of its forest because of cutting trees. This includes 30% of the old-growth forests, which are made out of more than 140-year-old trees and which are biodiverse.
The study does not talk about the other environmental stressors on trees, like the increasing carbon dioxide fertilization and carbon emissions, wildfires, and insect infestations. In Europe and North America, where they were able to find data, they found that the tree mortality doubled over time and that most of those were old trees. Their findings also show that the world is losing mostly old trees. But because they did not have enough data, they were not able to find a precise number about how much the forests have shorted.
Other places are also losing trees, but for other different reasons and at other rates. We have seen how wildfires have led to the loss of a lot of flora in Australia and Mongolia. The same goes for California – they also have beetle infestations. The Amazon rainforest is also in danger. But we also have an excellent thing going on: the tree mortality’s in the Pacific Northwest is actually decreasing.