What is it about?

Environmental Kuznets Curves (EKC) are often used to analyze the relationship between economic growth and the state of the environment. The former are part of a framework that increases understanding of whether economic growth can be part of the solution to, rather than the cause of environmental problems. Although the understanding of drivers of deforestation is increasingly solid, knowledge about forest transition, especially at the global scale, is remarkably underdeveloped. In this paper, the focus is on countries which have witnessed an overall increase in forest cover of different types of forests associated with heterogeneous potential contributions to the maintenance of biodiversity.

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Why is it important?

Forest Recovery Index is introduced that accounts for the fact that dissimilar forest management regimes have different impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The results of our integrated ecological-economic models support the existence of an N-shaped curve in the context of forest recovery, implying that the quality and quantity of new forests in middle-income countries has increased to the least extent. In other words, although the outcomes suggest optimism in the long term, caution is needed as the first turning point (a decrease in forest recovery), unlike the second, may fairly easy to be reached. In spite of overall increases in the extent of forests, negative trends – rearrangements that favor less valuable types of forest – appear to be persistent. While transitions are important in terms of the need to sequester carbon, governments should (in line with the Aichi Targets) place greater emphasis on forest biodiversity during transition management to ensure the provision of a wider array of ecosystem services


The most important outcome is the understanding that economic development promotes, in the long term, not only a reduction in deforestation, but also an increase in the extent and environmental quality of forest. However, a closer look reveals that a quick recovery period is followed by a relatively long interval during which forest recovery decreases. After bottoming out, the trend appears to turn positive again, but this threshold has been reached by relatively wealthy countries only. Further research is needed to reveal whether it is possible to avoid such a long periods of decrease.

Professor Imre Ferto
Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences: Budapest

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This page is a summary of: Does economic growth influence forestry trends? An environmental Kuznets curve approach based on a composite Forest Recovery Index, Ecological Indicators, May 2020, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.106067.
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