Report: South to lose 23M acres of forests

Atlanta Business Chronicle – by Carla Caldwell , Morning Call Editor

Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 4:51am EDT

The South is expected to lose 23 million acres of forests over the next 50 years due to urbanization, weather patterns, land ownership changes, invasive species, and the use of bio-energy, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Forest Service, Reuters is reporting.

In Georgia and the Carolinas the decline could be as much as 22 percent. In Florida, as much as 30 percent of forests could be lost, according to the forest service.

“The summary report clearly demonstrates the urgent need for developing a collaborative strategy to conserve and restore southern forests,” Forest Service Southern Regional Forester¬†Liz Agpaoa¬†said in a statement.

The loss of forest land will result in more runoff water and decreased water quality along with an increase in the frequency and severity of wildfires, analysis and computer models found, the report says.

The study is the first in-depth forecast on forests in the South prepared by the agency and was compiled with the input of more than 30 scientists, foresters and other experts with the Forest Service, state forestry agencies and universities, according to a statement.

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