Environment & Energy Economics article A new study has found that the UK is the worst country in the world at keeping forests and green grasslands healthy and green, while France is the second worst in terms of forest protection and the Netherlands the third worst.
The report by the Royal Society of London (RSL) said the UK had the highest rate of deforestation and the second highest rate at controlling grassland degradation, while Germany and France are the only countries to have a significant amount of green grassland.
The UK has the highest rates of forest loss per hectare of land in the European Union, with about 15,000 hectares lost per year.
The average rate is more than double that in France and more than three times that in Germany, which have rates of just 1,300 hectares per hectace.
The report said the lack of effective forest management policies was “the most persistent and pervasive problem” for Europe.
As well as contributing to climate change, we are also responsible for more than one-fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions we cause.”””
Our forests are the least healthy and most productive of all our grassland areas, which are largely protected by land use.
As well as contributing to climate change, we are also responsible for more than one-fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions we cause.””
There is no doubt that we must do more to protect the natural environment and make the most of our forests.
But the challenge is to ensure that the impacts of the loss of these forests are manageable, that they are managed appropriately and that the ecosystems they support are managed optimally,” it said.”
There are more pressing issues to tackle.
For example, climate change will require a far greater proportion of the natural carbon we are producing to be used to produce goods and services, and to offset the damage done to natural grassland ecosystems.”
The report is based on a new study that looked at forest loss and degradation in 14 countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK and the US.
It found that in the UK, France and Germany, greenness has declined by a significant degree since the 1970s, while in Norway, the rate of degradation is down more than 10 per cent since 1990.
“These trends reflect a clear and sustained loss of natural green grasses in Europe,” the report said.
The UK’s rate of forest destruction is the highest in the EU, at 12,400 hectares per year, and it has the second-highest rate of grassland loss, at 2,300 hectare per year compared with 1,100 hectare in Germany.
The US has the third-highest forest loss rate, at 5,400 hectare annually, but is the only country in which greenness is higher.
In terms of grasslands degradation, the RSL found that Germany has the lowest rate of greengrass degradation, at 0.8 hectares per acre, compared with the EU average of 2.5 hectares per 100 hectares.
Germany has the world highest rate for the proportion of green-grasslands in decline, with more than 80 per cent of the greengrass in its country having disappeared, according to the report.
The UK has a low rate of decline, at 6 per cent.
“The loss of green habitats in Germany and the UK have been linked to climate-change-induced changes in soil composition and vegetation structure and the reduction of water table.
In contrast, grassland in Norway is not impacted by climate change,” it added.
The researchers said that while a global solution is needed, it is unlikely to be achieved without a concerted effort to develop a long-term strategy to address the issue.
“We propose that the global effort to manage greenlands, which will require the global community to come together, is a good start.
We also recognise that it is a complex problem and that many countries do not have a clear understanding of the full extent of the problem,” the researchers said.
Follow James on Twitter.