LONDON, July 1, 2020 (The Guardian) -Europe has lost a vastly increased area of forest to harvesting in recent years, data suggests, reducing the continent’s carbon absorption capacity and possibly indicating wider problems with the EU’s attempts to combat the climate crisis.
Many of the EU’s forests – which account for about 38% of its land surface area – are managed for timber production, and thus harvested regularly. But the loss of biomass increased by 69% in the period from 2016 to 2018, compared with the period from 2011 to 2015, according to satellite data. The area of forest harvested increased by 49% in the same comparison, published in the journal Nature Research.
This indicates that much more harvesting has occurred in a short period, even accounting for natural cycles and the impact of events such as forest fires and heavy snows. The harvested area could be expected to vary by less than about 10% owing to cycles of growing and planting, and similar effects, according to Guido Ceccherini of the EU Joint Research Centre, lead author of the study.
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