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. The term "landscape turnaround" has also been used to represent a more general recovery of natural areas that is independent of biome type.
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.
Studies of forest transitions have been conducted for several nations as well as sub-national regions. Territories reported to have experienced forest transitions after the onset of industrialization include Bangladesh, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark,Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France,Greece, Gambia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Scotland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. Furthermore, forest-transition dynamics have been documented for regions within Brazil,Ecuador, and Mexico.
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.
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. 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.
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