Forest transition

Forest transition refers to a geographic theory describing a reversal or turnaround in land-use trends for a given territory from a period of net forest area loss (i.e., deforestation) to a period of net forest area gain.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] The term "landscape turnaround" has also been used to represent a more general recovery of natural areas that is independent of biome type.[2][8]

Forest recovery resulting in net increases in forest extent can occur by means of spontaneous regeneration, active planting, or both.[9]

Forest transitions are associated with socio-economic transformations towards increased industrialization and urbanization. Other conditions leading to the abandonment of agricultural land (e.g., war and environmental legislation) have been found to play important roles in some cases. The different processes through which forest transitions occur are contingent upon the local socioeconomic and ecological contexts. Although some generic processes can be identified, countries do not necessarily experience a regular pattern of forest cover changes with time or development, and the causes and outcomes of forest transitions vary.[2][7]

Studies of forest transitions have been conducted for several nations as well as sub-national regions.[7] Territories reported to have experienced forest transitions after the onset of industrialization include Bangladesh, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark,[10]Canada,[2] Dominican Republic,[11] El Salvador,[12] France,[2][13]Greece,[2] Gambia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, Puerto Rico,[2][11][14][15] Rwanda, Scotland,[16] South Korea, Spain, Switzerland,[2][17] the United States,[2] the United Kingdom,[2] and Vietnam.[18][19] Furthermore, forest-transition dynamics have been documented for regions within Brazil,[8][20][21]Ecuador,[22] and Mexico.[23][24]

The environmental effects of these forest transitions are very variable, depending on whether deforestation of old-growth forests continue, the proportions and types of tree plantations versus natural regeneration of forests, and the location and spatial configuration of the different types of forests.[7]

The findings of returning forests in these widespread studies raise questions about the prospects of a worldwide forest transition, particularly given ongoing processes of forest loss in many parts of the world.[2][9][25] In other words, can the global extent of forests be expected to reach a turning point in the future, reversing the current trend of overall forest decline towards overall forest expansion? Studies showed that given an increased competition for productive land between different land uses, a global forest transition would require major policy and technological innovations as well as shifts in demands for fiber, fuel, and food, and that these changes cannot be taken for granted.[7]

See also


  1. Mather, A.S. 1992. The forest transition. Area 24(4): 367-379
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Walker, R. 1993. Deforestation and Economic Development. Canadian Journal of Regional Science 16(3): 481-497.
  3. Grainger, Alan. 1995. The forest transition: an alternative approach. Area 27(3): 242-251
  4. Mather, A.S. and C.L. Needle. 1998. The forest transition: a theoretical basis. Area 30(2): 117-124
  5. Rudel, Thomas K. 1998. Is there a forest transition? Deforestation, reforestation, and development. Rural Sociology 63(4): 533-552
  6. Perz, Stephen G. 2007. Grand theory and context-specificity in the study of forest dynamics: forest transition theory and other directions. Professional Geographer 59(1): 105-114
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Meyfroidt, P., Lambin, E.F. 2011. Global Forest Transition: Prospects for an End to Deforestation. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 36: 343-371
  8. 1 2 Walker, R. 2011. The scale of forest transition: Amazonia and the Atlantic forests of Brazil. Applied Geography 32(1): 12-20
  9. 1 2 Rudel, Thomas K., Oliver T. Coomes, Emilio Moran, Frederic Achard, Arild Angelsen, Jianchu Xu, and Eric Lambin. 2005. Forest transitions: towards a global understanding of the land use change. Global Environmental Change. 15: 23-31
  10. Mather, A.S., C.L. Needle, and J.R. Coull. 1998. From resource crisis to sustainability: the forest transition in Denmark. Int J Sust Dev World 5(3): 182-193
  11. 1 2 Aide, T. Mitchell and H. Ricardo Grau. 2004. Globalization, migration, and Latin American ecosystems. Science 305(5692): 1915-1916
  12. Hecht, Susanna B., Susan Kandel, Ileana Gomes, Nelson Cuellar, and Herman Rosa. 2006. Globalization, forest resurgence, and environmental politics in El Salvador. World Development 34(2): 308-323
  13. Mather, A.S., J. Fairbairn, and C.L. Needle. 1999. The course and drivers of the forest transition: the case of France. Journal of Rural Studies 15(1): 65-90
  14. Rudel, Thomas K., Marla Perez-Lugo, and Heather Zichal. 2000. When fields revert to forest: development and spontaneous reforestation in post-war Puerto Rico. Professional Geographer 52(3): 386-397
  15. Grau, H. Ricardo, T. Mitchell Aide, Jess K. Zimmerman, John R. Thomlinson, Eileen Helmer, and Xioming Zou. 2003. The ecological consequences of socioeconomic and land-use changes in postagricultural Puerto Rico. Bioscience 53(12): 1159-1168
  16. Mather, A.S. 2004. Forest transition theory and the reforesting of Scotland. Scottish Geographical Journal 120: 83-98
  17. Mather, A.S. and J. Fairbairn. 2000. From floods to reforestation: the forest transition in Switzerland. Environment and History 6(4): 399-421
  18. Meyfroidt, P. and Lambin, E. F. 2008. Forest transition in Vietnam and its environmental impacts. Global Change Biology 14(6): 1319-1336.
  19. Meyfroidt, Patrick and Eric F. Lambin. 2007. The causes of the reforestation in Vietnam. Land Use Policy, 25(2): 182-197
  20. Perz, Stephen G. and David L. Skole. 2003. Secondary forest expansion in the Brazilian Amazon and the refinement of forest transition theory. Society and Natural Resources 16: 277-294
  21. Baptista, Sandra R. and Thomas K. Rudel. 2006. A re-emerging Atlantic forest? Urbanization, industrialization and the forest transition in Santa Catarina, southern Brazil. Environmental Conservation 33(3): 195–202
  22. Rudel, Thomas K., Diane Bates, and Rafael Machinguiashi. 2002. A tropical forest transition? Agricultural change, out-migration, and secondary forests in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 92(1): 87-102
  23. Klooster, Dan. 2003. Forest transitions in Mexico: institutions and forests in a globalized countryside. Professional Geographer 55: 227-237
  24. Bray, David B. and Peter Klepeis. 2005. Deforestation, forest transitions, and institutions for sustainability in southeastern Mexico, 1900-2000. Environment and History 11(2): 195–223
  25. Kauppi, Pekka E., Jesse H. Ausubel, Jingyun Fang, Alexander S. Mather, Roger A. Sedjo, and Paul E. Waggoner. 2006. Returning forests analyzed with the forest identity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103(46): 17574–17579
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