The counterattack of forests and wolves

1.-These vacation days are a good time to visit natural areas, those of our childhood and other new ones that we are adding to our memories: mountains, beaches, rivers … It is also an appropriate time to read the magnificent book written by our master Fernando López-RamónConservar el Patrimonio natural“[“Natural heritage preservation”] (Reus, 2019).

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2.-In the article “The forest’s counterattack” , I noted that at least in Western countries and also in China and rich countries in Asia, the forest area is growing faster and faster. You can read this article at the end of this post. The same opinion is affirmed in this controversial paper by Matt Ridley:

Dismantling Free Markets Won’t Solve Biodiversity Threat[1]

Let me  show you the main idea:

On the whole what really diminishes biodiversity is a large but poor population trying to live off the land. As countries get richer and join the market economy they generally reverse deforestation, slow species loss and reverse some species declines. Countries like Bangladesh are now rich enough to be reforesting, not deforesting, and this is happening all over the world. Most of this is natural forest, not plantations. As for wildlife, think of all the species that have returned to abundance in Britain: otters, ospreys, sea eagles, kites, cranes, beavers, deer and more. Why are wolves increasing all around the world, lions decreasing and tigers now holding steady? Basically, because wolves are in rich countries, lions in poor countries and tigers in middle income countries. Prosperity is the solution not the problem.”

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3.-Wildlife is rebounding in developed countries. This does not exclude the concern for their protection but ridicules the jeremiads that do not take into account technical and scientific progress. The heavy burden that makes us waste so much time is the ideology that believes that people are inherently greedy, the environment is in decline, and the future is dark[2].

New and preserved woodland in Central Catalonia (Manresa,Bages).

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The forest’s counterattack

1.-In the old and beautiful film “The Emerald Jungle“, members of an Amazon tribe stated, before the destruction of their forests, that “the limit of the world is getting closer“. It is a fringe in a delicate situation. However, news of the sustained growth of woodlands in various areas of our planet is recurring. This conclusion is based on data captured by satellites, increasingly accurate.

Among the causes of this rebounding are the abandonment of agricultural land, the rise in the temperature of the planet – which allows trees to penetrate previously colder areas – and the effective implementation of reforestation policies – with China at the first position, as usual-. Even FAO, so politically correct, admits that the decrease in green thickets has slowed in the period 1990-2015 and that forests have expanded in the regions of greatest economic development: Europe, North America, and East and Southeast Asia.
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2.-Of course, you have to put all these references in quarantine. It is not advisable to rely on agency summaries made in a rush, especially considering that this information will be used in the ring of the debates on land management. On the other hand, it would be now absurd to paralyze protection and safeguard policies.

I remember now an interesting study directed by Oriol Nel•lo Colom entitled “The light of the city. The process of urbanization in Spain from the night images of the Earth” [La luz de la ciudad. El proceso de urbanización en España a partir de las imágenes nocturnas de la Tierra] (2016). This text assessed the information obtained thanks to the night images captured by satellite over the Spanish territory. The mechanism gave subtle and transparent information about the effective extension of urbanization processes and urban ways of life. However, I was deeply interested in a specific section that analysed carefully the evidence, evaluated critically the methodology, warned of possible inconsistencies, etc. That is the serene caution of scientists.
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3.- The renowned expert Martí Boada often says that Catalonia is a wooded country, but we don’t realize it. It is true that forests touristic frequenting has flourished. But, naturally, they are weekend or vacation activities, temporary and artificial leisure… It is hard for us to believe that – beyond the traditional apocalyptic nightmares – the brambles, the bushes, and the first Pines follow their path relentlessly.

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[1] I have discovered this article thanks to “#32 Lo que hay que leer”, included in “Diarios de Arcadi Espada”, published on August 17, 2019.

[2] See SHELLENBERGER, Michael: “The Bigotry of Environmental Pessimism”, Quillette, August 15, 2019.

Acerca de Joan Amenós Álamo

Professor de Dret Administratiu
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