Thursday, January 29, 2009

Urbanization and Reforestation

Around the world, people are moving to cities. The U.S historical experience shows that an environmental benefit of moving people from the countryside to the cities is that the rural trees grow back. See Alex Pfaff's nice work on this point.

A similar dynamic is now playing out in Central America's and South America's Rainforests. History provides some useful lessons! New York Times Piece on trees

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

If I don't cut down the trees in my forest, they will eventually fll down and rot, releasing CO2.

If I cut down my trees and make something valuable from them, that product may be around for a hundred years or more.

If I cut down my trees too soon, then the combined sequestration of forest and product is shorter than it might be.

Clearly preserving rain forest habitat is more valuable than my little patch of land, but forest sequestration includes or shoould include sequestrtin in the end products, as well.

Fixed Carbon said...

The pattern of lots of people moving to the cities is not to be found in the Amazon, which is where the vast majority of deforestation occurs in South America. Only extremely low population densities of indigenous people live in these areas. Most Amazonian deforestation is due to illegal cutting by wealthy interests for the purpose of raising cattle. Illegal logging also contributes. Bill Lawrence, featured in the NYT piece has studied Amazonian forest destruction for quite a while. Mongabay has a recent post on Amazon deforestation (http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0129-brazil.html). Andy Revkin at the NYT has written a great deal about the vicious lawlessness of Amazonian deforestation (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/the-uncertain-legacy-of-chico-mendes/).