During the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, as economic activity ground to a virtual standstill, Mother Nature flirted with recovery. With so many factories closed and far fewer vehicles on the road, Greenhouse gas emissions plummeted. Air and water quality temporarily improved. Overall, the global economy shrank by roughly 4 percent in 2020, and yet one disturbing trend continued apace: forest destruction worldwide, largely as a result of agriculture. No paywall
Interior Secretary and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue advocated the thinning of forests and removing brush to eliminate fuel for wildfies during a roundtable discussion in northern California, said the Redding Record Searchlight. The cabinet members said thinning the tree stands in foressts did not mean clear cutting the land.
An area the size of New Zealand, some 29.7 million hectares (73.4 million acres), was stripped of tree cover during 2016, says data on Global Forest Watch, an increase of 51 percent from the previous year. "Forest fires seem to be a primary cause for this year's spike, including dramatic fire-related degradation in Brazil," wrote two World Resources Institute analysts in a blog.
If the world raised organic production and moved toward a vegetarian diet, farmers could feed the global population without converting large amounts of virgin land like forests to crops, says a new study in the journal Nature Communications.
For the third time, Indonesia has extended its moratorium on issuing licenses to clear forests and peat land, says Reuters. The nation's environment and forestry minister told the news agency the extension will run for two years and allow officials time to develop regulations on forest use.
Some 62 million trees have died so far this year in California, said USDA, blaming the losses on drought, warmer than usual weather and insect damage. The losses, up by 36 million from a survey earlier this year, are double the losses reported in 2015.
Due to hotter weather and more days without rain, the length of forest fire season has grown by 19 percent over the past 35 years, says a team of researchers.
The Agriculture Department announced $150 million to revitalize forests in Northern California and for drought relief for farmers and rural communities.
More than 200,000 tons of dead or diseased trees were removed from national forests this summer through a program that offsets the harvest and transport cost for delivering plant materials to biomass refineries, said USDA.
Eight countries in Latin America announced a project to restore 20 million hectares - 77,000 square miles - of degraded forest and farmland, says Reuters. The land would be used to store carbon in vegetation and cut emissions of greenhouse gases.
At least three-quarters of the forests of the world have been cut down or damaged, says the New York Times in a two-page story that says...
Half of the forest species - trees, shrubs, palms and bamboo - routinely used by countries around the world are threatened by climate change, over-exploitation and encroachment by pastures and farmland, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
On Earth Day, AgSec Vilsack announced in Des Moines that USDA awarded $6 million to 10 universities to study the effects of climate change on agricultural production and to develop responses to them.