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Some forests have been hiding in plain sight

Date:
May 11, 2017
Source:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Summary:
A new estimate of dryland forests suggests that the global forest cover is at least 9 percent higher than previously thought. The finding will help reduce uncertainties surrounding terrestrial carbon sink estimates.
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A new estimate of dryland forests suggests that the global forest cover is at least 9% higher than previously thought. The finding will help reduce uncertainties surrounding terrestrial carbon sink estimates.

Dryland biomes, where precipitation is more than counterbalanced by evaporation from surfaces and transpiration by plants, cover about 40% of the Earth's land surface.

These biomes contain some of the most threatened ecosystems, including biodiversity hotspots. However, previous estimates of dryland forests have been riddled with disparities, caused by issues such as differences in satellite spatial resolution, mapping approaches and forest definitions.

These disparities have led to major doubts about the reliability of global forest area estimates, and to questions about the real contribution made by forests to the global carbon cycle. Here, Jean-Francois Bastin et al. analyzed satellite data from Google Earth, using a detail sample pool of 213,795 0.5 hectare plots from around the globe.

Their new estimate of dryland forest is 40 to 47% higher than previous estimates, corresponding to 467 million hectares (Mha) of forest that have never been reported before.

This increases current estimates of global forest cover by at least 9%. These results explain the difference between recent global estimates of forest "land use" area (3890 Mha) and the area with a "land cover," the authors say.


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Materials provided by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jean-François Bastin, Nora Berrahmouni, Alan Grainger, Danae Maniatis, Danilo Mollicone, Rebecca Moore, Chiara Patriarca, Nicolas Picard, Ben Sparrow, Elena Maria Abraham, Kamel Aloui, Ayhan Atesoglu, Fabio Attore, Çağlar Bassüllü, Adia Bey, Monica Garzuglia, Luis G. García-Montero, Nikée Groot, Greg Guerin, Lars Laestadius, Andrew J. Lowe, Bako Mamane, Giulio Marchi, Paul Patterson, Marcelo Rezende, Stefano Ricci, Ignacio Salcedo, Alfonso Sanchez-Paus Diaz, Fred Stolle, Venera Surappaeva, Rene Castro. The extent of forest in dryland biomes. Science, 2017; 356 (6338): 635 DOI: 10.1126/science.aam6527

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American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Some forests have been hiding in plain sight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170511142010.htm>.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2017, May 11). Some forests have been hiding in plain sight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170511142010.htm
American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Some forests have been hiding in plain sight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170511142010.htm (accessed May 27, 2017).

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