by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Scientists looking at forest cover in some of the world’s driest places found something astounding — “lost” forests covering an area nearly seven times the size of Texas.
“We found new dryland forest on all inhabited continents, but mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, around the Mediterranean, central India, coastal Australia, western South America, northeastern Brazil, northern Colombia and Venezuela, and northern parts of the boreal forests in Canada and Russia,” biologists Andrew Lowe and Ben Sparrow wrote of their study, which had 28 other co-authors. …
… “This increases current estimates of global forest cover by at least 9%,” reads the study’s abstract. Lowe and Sparrow say the increase in forest cover means forests hold up to 20 percent more carbon dioxide than previously thought.
The co-authors say previous studies missed the vast amounts of forests on drylands because they were based off “older, low-resolution satellite images that did not include ground validation.” These forests also have relatively low tree density.
Patrick Michaels, a climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, said the study reinforces the argument that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are causing global greening, in contrast to the global browning predicted by climate models.
“This may lead to a remarkable hypothesis — that one of the reasons the forested regions were undercounted in previous surveys (among other reasons) is that there wasn’t enough vegetation present to meet Bastin’s criterion for ‘forest,’ which is greater than 10% tree cover, and carbon dioxide and global warming changed that,” Michaels wrote in a blog post.