Study is based on data compiled from remote sensing, censuses, and expert opinion
The February 2005 issue of BioScience, the monthly journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), includes a new assessment of rapid land-cover change around the world over the period from 1981 to 2000. Changes in the use to which land is put have important implications for climate change and loss of biodiversity, and affect local populations access to food and clean drinking water. The study, conducted under the auspices of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment by Erika Lepers of the University of Louvain in Belgium and six co-authors, examined forest-cover changes, degraded lands in dry regions (often referred to as desertification), cropland expansion and abandonment, and urban settlements. The assessment is based on data compiled from remote sensing and censuses as well as expert opinion.
The results indicate that whereas Asia has the greatest concentration of areas of rapid land-cover change, in particular dryland degradation, existing data do not support the claim that the African Sahel is a desertification hotspot. The Amazon Basin remains a hotspot of tropical deforestation, the assessment concludes, and rapid cropland increase is prominent in Southeast Asia. But forest degradation is also increasing rapidly in Siberia, mostly as a result of logging, and the southeastern United States and eastern China are experiencing rapid cropland decrease.
Donna Royston | EurekAlert!
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