Global tree cover and the environment


Sir, – I refer to the letter by R O’Briain (August 5th), advocating increased planting of trees generally and, specifically, conservation of trees in the tropics in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. I agree with this but I also wish to announce some good news that I believe is not widely known. There is more tree cover on earth now than there was 35 years ago.

A paper by Xiao-Peng Song and others published in Nature on August 8th, 2018, announced that, contrary to the prevailing view that global forest area is declining, tree cover has actually increased globally by 7.1 per cent since 1982. This is a result of tree-cover loss in the tropics being outweighed by a net gain in the extra-tropics.

The increased tree cover outside the tropics is probably largely accounted for by increasing wealth in these areas plus advances in technology that allow farmers to grow more food on less land. – Yours, etc,


Emeritus Professor

of Biochemistry,