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Forest Degradation

  • By: François Girard & Serge Payette
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Forest degradation is not a reduction of forested area but a decrease in its quality, a significant decline of its ecological condition, and/or a shift in its structure. In most cases, human-related activities are the cause of forest degradation. Parameters triggering forest degradation can be local (stand disturbances, insect outbreaks) or regional (climate change). Estimating the extent of forest degradation is challenging because it is difficult to describe the initial state of the forest and the equilibrium state (i.e., climax condition). Also, time-related problems arise due to the longevity of the trees. It is important to distinguish forest degradation from deforestation. Deforestation involves a decrease in forest cover, a permanent conversion of forested areas to non-forested; there is no deforestation if there is continuity ...

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