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Deforestation and Population



How much has the total forest area in the United States declined since 1907? — https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/gtr/gtr_wo091.pdf
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Transcript: In this modern era, in which people and technology have made dramatic changes to the earth, environmental issues are a constant concern. For example, deforestation—the mass destruction of trees—is a serious environmental challenge due to its impact on wildlife habitats, water cycles, and air quality. What leads to deforestation?

Many environmentalists draw a close connection between deforestation and global population growth.

How about the United States? What impact has the nation’s robust economic and population growth over the last century had on our forests? Let’s find out with Just Facts’ Question of the Week…

How much has the total forest area in the United States declined since 1907?
a) Less than 1%
b) 1% to 10%
c) More than 10%
The answer is (a), less than 1%.
This was kind of a trick question, because the total forest area in the United States didn’t decline at all—it increased! U.S. Forest Service data show that forest area in the country went from more than 740 million acres in 1907 to more than 766 million acres in 2012, a gain of 3% — all while the U.S. population more than tripled. To make the comparison fair, the total acreage for 1907 includes places such as Alaska that would later become part of the United States.

Though there are serious environmental challenges we face globally, we can rest assured that in today’s United States, population growth by itself does not inevitably lead to deforestation.

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