News FocusEcology

Temperate Forests Gain Ground

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Science  13 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5392, pp. 1253
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5392.1253

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While tropical forests have been in dire straits, many woodlands outside the tropics are quietly prospering, as evidenced most recently in an analysis of U.S. Forest Service data concluding that forest growth in the United States has outpaced forest clearing over the last 50 years. A variety of factors, including reversion of marginal farmlands to forest; improvements in tree-harvesting, paper-milling, and other technologies; paper and wood recycling; and the substitution of other materials for construction lumber, are contributing to the gains. Some researchers warn that in the future, the savings achieved by conservation measures are likely to be counterbalanced by continued population growth, but others say the further application of modern agriculture to forestry could foster forest growth.