Global warming and climate change fanatics, stop now before you read any further.
According to a new study published in Nature, in the roughly quarter century between 1982 and 2016, global tree canopy cover increased by 865,000 square miles.
While the area of bare ground and short vegetation is diminishing, forest area is growing. As Ronald Bailey notes in Reason, “Forests in montane regions are expanding as climate warming enables trees to grow higher up on mountains.”
The greatest increase in tree canopy occurred in Europe, including European Russia, where it exploded by 35%. A close second was found in China, where tree canopy gained 34%. In the U.S., tree canopy increased by 15%.
Bailey notes, “These new findings contradict earlier studies that reported a continuing net loss of forest cover. … For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 reported, ‘In 1990 the world had 4,128 million [hectares] of forest; by 2015 this area had decreased to 3,999 million ha. This is a change from 31.6 percent of global land area in 1990 to 30.6 percent in 2015.’”
But the Nature study posits that the world gained 2.24 million square kilometers in forest area since 1982, rather than losing 1.29 million square kilometers between 1990-2015, as the FAO implied.