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Europe's lost forests – study shows coverage has halved over six millennia

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Academics in Sweden, Germany, France, Estonia and Switzerland sought to establish how the nature of Europe’s forests has changed over 11,000 years. More than half of Europe’s forests have disappeared over the past 6,000 years thanks to increasing demand for agricultural land and the use of wood as a source of fuel, new research led by the University of Plymouth suggests.

Using pollen analysis from more than 1,000 sites, scientists showed that more than two thirds of central and northern Europe would once have been covered by trees.

Today, that is down to around a third, although in more western and coastal regions, including the UK and Republic of Ireland, the decline has been far greater with forest coverage in some areas dropping below 10 per cent.

However, those downward trends have begun to reverse, through the discovery of new types of fuel and building techniques, but also through ecological initiatives such as the ongoing National Forest project and the new Northern Forest, announced by the UK Government in January 2018.

Continue reading at University of Plymouth

Image via University of Plymouth