As some people have been saying for some time now

Although deforestation is rampant across the tropics, forest has a strong capacity to regrow on abandoned lands. These “secondary” forests may increasingly play important roles in biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and landscape restoration. Poorter et al. analyzed the patterns of recovery in forest attributes (related to soil, plant functioning, structure, and diversity) in 77 secondary forest sites in the Americas and West Africa. They found that different attributes recovered at different rates, with soil recovering in less than a decade and species diversity and biomass recovering in little more than a century. The authors discuss how these findings can be applied in efforts to promote forest restoration

Or, as The Guardian puts it:

Tropical forests can bounce back with surprising rapidity, a new study published today suggests.

An international group of researchers has found that tropical forests have the potential to almost fully regrow if they are left untouched by humans for about 20 years. This is due to a multidimensional mechanism whereby old forest flora and fauna help a new generation of forest grow – a natural process known as “secondary succession”.

The low point for American forests was the 1920s. Europe has been reforesting about as long too.

The lesson is clear and obvious – like the cutting. Get through the inflexion point of the Kuznets Curve and we’re done. The solution to that tropical forest problem is to make the people rich. All will stem naturally from that.

So, more neoliberal globalisation then.

20 thoughts on “As some people have been saying for some time now”

  1. It’s blindingly obvious to anyone with a garden that plants will grow wherever and whenever they can, the problem is stopping them growing where you don’t want them. I wonder how people who think nature can’t function without being helped along by humans think it got there in the first place.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    There’s a report locating around that showed that after the storm of ‘87 battered Kent areas left alone recovered a lot faster than areas where arrogant humans thought they knew better than nature.

    Why would the tropics be any different?

  3. I think the poster case is the area around Chernobyl turning into flourishing steppe forest within five years of being de-humanised.

  4. The Amazon rainforest is only a few hundred years old. When the Spanish and Portuguese first explored the Amazon basin. it was full of thriving cities and agricultural land. Old-World diseases accidentally introduced by the Europeans cleared the cities and allowed the forest to grow.

  5. According to satellite imagery, an area of land about the size of North America has been greened, reclaimed from desert land thanks to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and slightly milder nighttime temperatures because of the 10 000 year long period of global warming. Higher CO2 concentrations means plants require less water to respire. And that new plant growth apart from providing new habitat for plant and animal, fixes topsoil and water. It could also provide land for Human habitation and good production.

    Imagine: Nature doing its own carbon capture and planting its own trees – all on its own without cost to anyone or the intervention of that Attenborough creature or the Clown Prince of Windsor.

  6. @gunker
    1491 by Charles Mann is pretty good.
    The Amazon forest has the distinct look of being gardened rather than a natural occurrence. Instead of what you’d expect, one species of tree best suited to the ecological niche of a particular area dominating, it’s too diverse. And so many of the plants serve a useful purpose for the gardeners. Food sources or sources of useful materials. And then there’s the areas of terra preta. Carbon rich soils from slash & burn & full of ceramics from pottery. Early explorers found the river banks lined with villages. Population could have been in the 10s of millions originally.

  7. The forests of N. America seem to have a similar but different origin. The land was originally agricultural. The diseases spread quicker than the explorers so by the time they got there, with the farmers no longer farming, the trees had grown. Even the great herds of bison on the plains may not have been entirely natural. Bison bones don’t turn up in middens much before the arrival of Europeans. So the bison may have expanded into a vacant ecological niche left empty by the genocide of the human population. It’s not as if they were too big to hunt. There were much bigger megafauna hunted to extinction during human colonisation of the continent.

  8. We used to chop down trees and foliage along our railway lines because in the age of steam trains they were too prone to burn. With the advent of diesels the cutting stopped. That’s why you now often have a belt of light woodland along the lines. I assume that’s why we get delays with” leaves on the line”. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that the delays are caused by the people who object to cutting down any tree.

  9. The environmentalists will cite the disappearance of Amazonian cities and agriculture as positive for the world that should be emulated.

  10. Here’s something to think about. All this forest was growing over the vanished civilisations of the Amazon basin in the years following 1500. Much the same was going on in Central & North America. That’s pulling a lot of CO2 out of the air & sequestering it in timber. Culminates around the time when industrial revolution gets going. Also the time when the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere gets measured. And is the benchmark the fucking environmentalists are saying were the “normal” CO2 levels before industrialisation. So maybe they weren’t. Maybe they were an anomaly, the result of what was going on 200 hundred years earlier. Normal’s somewhere between the levels just pre IR & the level we are now.

  11. @BiT
    We’re told it’s big enough by the environmentalists tell us logging the Amazon rain forest is causing climate change*. So quite happy to take them at their word.

    *Although what isn’t?

  12. dearieme,

    Round our way, they decided to deal with leaves on the line causing delays by – chopping down all the trees.

    Which is when the landslips started happening, and the trains couldn’t run at all.

  13. @BiS The sensible ( yes, there actually are some..) climate models take this into account.
    You can’t explain the Little Ice Age without taking the massive reforestation of Europe after the Plague into account. South America has already been mentioned.
    There’s a fair bit of solid research indicating that large-scale domination of a species in an ecosystem has effects on local climate. The Greenies only point at mankind, but they conveniently forget that there’s a lot of species, plant and animal, that try to monopolise their environment and “adapt” it to their benefit. Humans are simply extremely good at it, but certainly not unique.

    But when have the Greentards ever had sense, common or otherwise? They are the new religious fanatics ( or rather.. the same old with a new Focus for their particular kind of mental aberration..) , and simply cannot be reasoned with.

  14. Imagine: Nature doing its own carbon capture and planting its own trees – all on its own without cost to anyone or the intervention of that Attenborough creature or the Clown Prince of Windsor.

    I argue this all the time. The ecosystem must be a stable, self-correcting system. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here – any instability or deviation from conditions would result in unliveable conditions (unliveable like Venus or Mars or Mad Max, not oops it’s a bit warmer in summer and a few floods). And there are plenty of things, far more powerful than human actions going on all the time – volcanic eruptions, meteors, fires etc.
    Therefore it’s a stable system.
    If it can self-correct after the rock that destroyed the f*cking dinosaurs, I don’t think me driving a diesel pickup truck is going to make a blind bit of difference.

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