What is a Forest and How is Deforestation Affecting that Definition?

by katelynncoull on October 16, 2015 - 10:02pm

In this article Nasa looks at the earth's forests from their space flight center. From there they attempt to define what a forest is by looking at what it consists of and what its ecosystem is like. They also take deforestation into account when disscussing the idea of forests. When looking at the earth they were able to determine that "as much a 6 percent of Earth's land area, nearly equivalent to the size of China" (Rocchio, 2015) is covered in forested areas. This number is not exact because satelite technology is not perfect but it still bring the idea that this is not much compared to the size of the planet.  This number is not exact because the researchers used different sofwares as well. Many "large international organizations vary substantially in their definition of forestd. The researchers found that when different satellite-based calculations use different definitions it can severely compromise forest are caluclations in regions that have less dense tree cover, such as savannahs and shrublands"(Rocchio, 2015). This tells us that the earth may havemore forests than we are lead to believe. This gives the optimist in me hope. Even though deforestation is yes a very severe issue that is affecting people everywhere, we may have more than we believe we have. After changing their definition of what a forest is the software was able to find "anywhere with at least 10 percent forest cover in some definitions, as opposed to at least 30 percent forest cover in others"(Rocchio, 2015). Projects like this one have started intiatives like REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which many countries have followed. These initiatives allow the average person to see what we are doing to our home Earth so they take action.

I think projects like these are a great idea because they allow the public to see what is happening to our planet and makes them think to take action. Simiar to the man who started to photograph the glaciers and make projects out of them, it brings something that the average person sees every day and throws it into your face. I think more projects like these should come around to be able to showcase the enviromental problems in our society and bring them to light.

Rocchio L.E.P..(2015, October 7). Mission help answer: What is a forest?. Retrived from: http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2349/


Concepts like forests are indeed complicated. The idea of forests are very much a human concept- that is to say, a concept assigned to certain systems. Different definitions of forests mean vastly different estimations of the amount of forest cover remaining. Humans treasure forests as an image of untouched nature, even if they are human managed (many forests are and have been for hundreds of years or more), human-planted for forestry, or would not naturally appear in the area and are a sign of a changing climate. It would be interesting to see what kind of forests all of these are, and how much they've been impacted (though that would no doubt be complicated).

this summary has really caught my interest as I hear so often that our forests are diminishing and that deforestation has been happening faster than ever. Just hearing that 6% of earths land area is forested surprised me as i thought that the percentage was significantly lower. I am optimistic as well that the problem of deforestation can one day be resolved but until that day does come it's still good to know that there is more forest than expected. I agree that more projects like this one should be put in place and exposed to the public because maybe then people will start to realize that there is a problem.

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