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A Quota for Forestland

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Abstract

Humans have been altering Earth’s surface for more than 40,000 years. Deforestation and land-use change have occurred for much longer than many of the more “modern” impacts that have been occurring predominantly since the Industrial Revolution. All the same, land-use change has accelerated since the Industrial Revolution which has local and global impacts.

Forests play critical roles in the maintenance of the state of the Earth system. They are an integral part of the carbon, water, and nitrogen cycles. They provide important habitats. Moreover, they provide important resources for humans such as timber and food. The Planetary Boundary for land-use change is for forest area ≥75% of original forest area. Only 62% of original forest area is still forest now.

Forest area is also critical to several other Planetary Boundaries. The total area of global forest effects the Planetary Boundaries for land-use change, climate change, and biosphere integrity.

The Planetary Quota for forested land is net deforestation ≤−11 Mha/year. This can be compared with the net reforestation or deforestation associated with any scale of human activity. The limit is set on the basis of meeting the Planetary Boundaries for land-use change, climate change, and biosphere integrity by the end of this century.

The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.

Rabindranath Tagore

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Fig. 10.1

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Meyer, K., Newman, P. (2020). A Quota for Forestland. In: Planetary Accounting. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-1443-2_10

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