Abandoned Farmland Becoming Rainforest

As rural villagers abandon farms for the city, tropical lands are reverting to rainforests.
January 31, 2009, 1pm PST | Nate Berg
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"Here, and in other tropical countries around the world, small holdings like Ms. Ortega de Wing's - and much larger swaths of farmland - are reverting to nature, as people abandon their land and move to the cities in search of better livings."

"These new 'secondary' forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest - an iconic environmental cause - may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster."

"The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction by absorbing carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, one crucial role that rain forests play. They could also, to a lesser extent, provide habitat for endangered species."

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Published on Friday, January 30, 2009 in The New York Times
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