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Forest Transition Thesis

The forest transition thesis suggests that as countries undergo a process of social and economic development, forest cover follows a u-shaped curve. At first, deforestation is rapid; but as the country develops, deforestation slows and finally reverses. The theory is of great interest because it suggests that one way out of the current biodiversity crisis of deforestation—which is often blamed on economic development—is to encourage more economic development. Since growing forests take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, the theory is also of interest in debates about the role of forest recovery in national carbon budgets and global warming policy.

The forest transition thesis was developed to explain historical forest cover trends in developed countries like the United States, Portugal, Denmark, Japan, and South Korea. In ...

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