Even more consequential than the loss of forest is the loss of interior forest. Interior forest is less susceptible to pollution, changes in soil moisture and attacks from invasive species than non-interior forest, making it critical to maintaining a forest’s ecological health.
In a release, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southern Research Station reported a loss of 3.76 million square kilometers of global interior forest from 2000 to 2012. This loss was significant especially because the remaining forest is now more fragmented.
Using global tree cover data, scientists found that the rate of loss of interior forest was three times greater than the net loss of global forest. Loss of interior forest was due to changes in human land use in some cases, or due to changes caused by natural events such as fires.
The researchers looked at changes in land patterns for different biomes and ecological systems. Generally, it was found that interior forest was vanishing at a faster rate due to an increase in forest fragmentation, which broke forest up and prevented it ecologically from functioning as interior forest.
Top image: Forest. (Credit: Public Domain)