Statistically speaking, probably never. While large-scale deforestation is a severe problem in many regions of the world, such as Madagascar and Brazil, there are a number of countries where the opposite–reforestation–is occurring. For example, forests in France increased by over 25% between 1960 and 2005, and China, usually thought of as a country lagging behind in environmental standards, is also experiencing significant reforestation. The deforestation trend has also been reversed in the United States. In 1860 approximately 29% of the state of Connecticut, for example, was covered with trees; today it’s 60%. The question is not whether globally we will ever “run out” of trees; we probably won’t. Deforestation, occurring at different rates that change over time, has the potential to devastate individual countries, regions or economies; Connecticut’s success story, for instance, doesn’t do much to help the ecological damage in the rain forests of Brazil that are being converted to pastureland for cattle grazing operations. Deforestation is also not a permanent condition. Trees are not like oil, where once its taken from the ground it’s gone forever. Indeed, it is the renewability of trees and forestland that presents its greatest potential for reclaiming the global environment even if (and after) large-scale deforestation has temporarily devastated a particular region.
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