Thursday, April 02, 2015

Where Have All the Forests Gone?

The biggest source of lost forests is in Russia and Canada.  It's not forest lost to deforestation, logging or clearing land for agriculture, but boreal forest consumed by wildfires.  A climate change feedback?  Probably.

Some 43,000 square kilometres of northern boreal forest were ravaged in Russia, due mainly to fires, in 2013, while Canada shed another 24,500 square kilometres — amounting to a "very significant" loss in tree cover, according to Dr. Nigel Sizer of GFW, an interactive, online forest-monitoring and alert system based in Washington.

The data comes from GFW, the University of Maryland and Google.

Both Canada and Russia have seen unusually numerous forest fires in recent years, something Sizer says might be attributed to factors including climate change.
It's hard to imagine this would be a shock in either country where even the tundra is thawing and being consumed by wildfires.

The loss of 25,000 sq. kms. of boreal forest is pretty massive but keep it in perspective.  The province of Alberta, for example, has an area of 661,000 sq. kms.  Nunavut is over 2-million sq. kms.  Canada's lost boreal forest is more like five Prince Edward Islands (without five Mike Duffys).


Toby said...

Pine beetle contributed to that. Cold winters used to control the beetles. Not any more.

Kim said...

And the loss of snowpack and glaciers. Also, logging methods. Clearcuts in watersheds degrade soil and understory and clog salmon spawning grounds with silt and debris. Planting is inadequate and does not regenerate the carbon sink of a mature forest. The mycilium network gets disrupted. We don't even understand these basic things.

Anyong said...

A little off topic but pertinent. Newfoundland and Labrador is a prime example of how clear cutting affects the environment including wildlife. The paper company located in Corner Brook on the island, leaves a two-five kilometre corridor of trees along the Trans Canada highway so it cannot be detected by the local population. Where do the moose spend their time? Living in the uncut areas and crossing the highway which they very rarely did days past. Now the Fairy Fathers are talking about building a fence on both sides of the highway cutting off access to the moose who are the cause of many vehicle accidents. To boot, the top soil is leaching into the ocean and can be seen a kilometre off shore. The cost.....2 billion. Go figure!!

The Mound of Sound said...

That sounds about right, Anyong.