Reafforestation

At present, while some areas of the world are being deforested, other places are regaining the forest cover they once had. Sometimes this is due to deliberate planning and planting, as in the large areas of China and South Korea that have been re-afforested in recent decades. Other times, the return of forests is simply a by-product of social and economic forces. In the eastern USA, forests came back as a result of the collapse of the farming economy in competition with the more productive lands of the Great Plains. For example, after going down to less than 25% forest cover, the state of Rhode Island is now back to being more than 60% forested. The Low Countries of northeastern Europe have several times more forest now than they did 150 years ago. A similar process of abandonment of land and return of forest is occurring in parts of Eastern Europe at present. It would be interesting to know what these changes might be doing to climate, and the models intended to understand past deforestation effects can also be applied to the reverse process. Presumably, there would be a warming influence on climate as a result of the return of these temperate forests.

It is difficult to know what might happen in the future, but if deforestation in the tropics is eventually brought to a halt and then reversed, increasing forest cover might also have important effects on climate, presumably including decreased ground level temperatures (due to more evapotranspiration) and an increase in rainfall (due to more recycling of rainwater from the forest) in many of those regions.

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