Study: Deforestation destroys more dry forest than climate change


Ecuador: Deforestation destroys more dry forest than climate change
Study compares dry forest losses due to land use change or global warming

Tropical forests all over the world are at risk. Two of the main threats are the deforestation for arable land and climate change. Scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Thünen-Institute compared the losses due to deforestation with those that would result in extreme climate change scenarios in Ecuador. Although global warming is likely to change the distribution of species, deforestation will result in the loss of more dry forests than predicted by climate change damage.

Most of Ecuador’s dry forests are located in the southwest of the country, in the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena region. Photo: P. Hildebrandt/ TUM

A large proportion of Ecuador’s rare dry forests are located in the southwest of the country, in the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena region. These forests provide not only wood and non-wood products, but also important ecosystem services that regulate the water balance and protect the soil from erosion. However, the area suffers a high loss of habitat due to deforestation for more arable and pasture land. This exacerbates the negative effects of climate change, such as temperature increases.

In cooperation with scientists from the Thünen-Institut and the Ecuadorian Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, a team from TUM compared the predicted loss of area of tree species caused by deforestation on the one hand and by predicted forest losses in an extreme climate change scenario on the other. We have evaluated 660 data sets on the occurrence of 17 characteristic species of dry forests in the south of Ecuador,” explain first author Carlos Manchego and Patrick Hildebrandt from the Chair of Silviculture at TUM – “in order to estimate both potential threats, we have compared the forecast annual rates of losses. However, it is important that the results are not transferable to other tree species in other regions.”

Losses from conversions in the period 2008 to 2014, especially for agricultural and pasture land, averaged 71 square kilometres per year for all species in the study area. The predicted loss of species area in the climate change scenario was only 21 square kilometres per year.

Recommendations for more effective forest protection and sustainable land use

One unexpected outcome was the different displacement directions of tree species due to climate change. While some species migrate to the north, other species find their future distribution focus more to the south. This leads to a trend towards mixing tree species with hitherto unknown effects on the functionality and stability of future forest communities,” says Hildebrandt. “At the same time, grubbing-up starts in the higher altitudes, because it’s easier to grow something like corn there.”

According to Hildebrandt, it is important for efficient planning, the implementation of protective measures and sustainable land use to prioritise the measures according to such threats and weak points. A distinction must be made between the potential threats posed by climate change and deforestation. With the study “PLOS One” we wanted to provide a scientific frame of reference to identify the lesser evil and make targeted recommendations”.

However, regardless of the conservation strategy, these objectives required the participation of both private landowners and local communities.



Carlos E. Manchego, Patrick Hildebrandt, Jorge Cueva, Carlos Ivan Espinosa, Bernd Stimm, Sven Guenter: Climate change versus deforestation: Implications for tree species distribution in the dry forests of southern Ecuador, PLOSone 12/2017.


32 thoughts on “Study: Deforestation destroys more dry forest than climate change

  1. How much CO2 is sequestered annually and cumulatively by removing trees from forests and encasing them in human structures? There must be millions if not billions of tons of wood in buildings worldwide as well as a similar mass of trees growing back where logging previously removed trees.
    All climate change can really do is replace one type of tree with another, with a built in lag time.

  2. Have they actually found a forest that is being threatened by “Climate Change”(tm), or is this just another case of “the model said so”?

    • Well, they seem to have figured out how some trees plan to migrate when and if the climates changes as they dictate. They appear to have convinced themselves that they have mapped out the future growing conditions.
      Seems to me to be quite a concatenation of speculation.

      • “some trees plan to migrate”

        Yes, I can see the great herds moving across the plains…

        This is a classic silly study. But I guess some Germans got to go to Ecuador, which is nice for them.

      • Perhaps President Trump could give Peru an education about building walls to contain those illegal immigrant trees

      • Trees migrate? I’m reminded of “The March Of The Ents” from the Lord Of The Rings Movies. AND that ended with the ‘bad guy’ being (literally) overthrown!

  3. “Scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Thünen-Institute compared the losses due to deforestation with those that would result in extreme climate change scenarios…” Or FROM extreme climate change scenarios? Comparing what is actually occurring with worst- case outcomes from models? Hmm…

  4. So, actual deforestation caused by clearing for agriculture was 71 square kilometers, while mythical losses “predicted” by models was only 21 square kilometers. Pitiful. Maybe with some effort, they can get those mythical losses up. “Climate change” needs all the help it can get.

  5. What a load of nonsense. Logging, and cutting forests, or converting grassland and scrub-land for for pasture and agriculture has not caused a high loss of habitat,and has not ruined eco-systems or threatened the water balance or supply in developed nations. Another study spear-headed by Green Crusaders from a DEVELOPED foreign country – Germany – big surprise, who have a good standard of living and sacrifice nothing, to interrupt the economic developement of a developing one with a low standard of living. Equador’s environment will be fine if they cultivate grasslands and cut forest to improve the lives of it’s citizens, just as it is in the U.S, Canada, Australia. and all other developed nations that thrive with good standards of living and healthy environments. I trust Equadoreans to develope their nation as we did, the sooner the better. Another disgusting anti-human study aimed at the vulnerable,
    by hypocrates from a powerful developed nation whose aim is to subjugate and control.

    • Civilization has had a positive effect on the environment. Here’s what Freeman Dyson has to say about it.

      I spent my formative years in a land with great beauty and a rich ecology which is almost entirely man-made. The natural ecology of England was uninterrupted and rather boring forest. Humans replaced the forest with an artificial landscape of grassland and moorland, fields and farms, with a much richer variety of plant and animal species. Quite recently, only about a thousand years ago, we introduced rabbits, a non-native species which had a profound effect on the ecology. Rabbits opened glades in the forest where flowering plants now flourish. There is no wilderness in England, and yet there is plenty of room for wild-flowers and birds and butterflies as well as a high density of humans. link

      • Agreed commieBob. I’ve thought the same thing anout England. Thanks for the sensible, truthful remarks from Freeman Dyson. I am at a loss to fully understand why so many people are so blind to these facts, but I think a lot of it simply has to do with having the time to question the Dogma, along with the continual exposure to the Left’s propaganda machine.

      • And according to Bill Bryson in “Notes From A Big Country”, the heavy forests of New England are pretty recent. When the settlers first came there, they cleared the woodland for farming. And later (19th century?) the farmers left for better land in the Midwest. And the trees came back.

    • ”What a load of nonsense. Logging, and cutting forests, or converting grassland and scrub-land for for pasture and agriculture has not caused a high loss of habitat,and has not ruined eco-systems or threatened the water balance or supply in developed nations. ”

      Tell me you’re joking.
      Logging and cutting forests actually MEANS habitat loss. (habitat for everything other than cows and sheep that is) I’m all for destroying warmist beliefs but don’t make the mistake of putting humans above all other beings. That’s what religion does already.

  6. Sounds like Gandolph the White is needed to talk to those migrating tree’s about their migration patterns and fight back against those horrible human’s.

    Seriously, that increasing CO2 causes flora water conservation and increases atmospheric water that has been exponentially increasing flora globally. What is the down side of “climate change” that has these scientists all twisted? The tree’s are mostly harvested for other uses and the crops are themselves carbon sinks that replaces most of what carbon sinks are removed in deforestation. Rational thought, logic and common sense is not in their creedo.

  7. Well d’uh…like, um,…so what?

    It’s well known climate change, real climate change…as in climate zone boundary movement, takes place over centuries.

    Deforestation….much quicker.

    • Yes, exactly! Could carbon credits possibly be involved here?

      Climate Change solutions do more damage than Climate Change every time.

  8. I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about Rain Forests.
    They vastly increase the area of the water/atmosphere interface and thus support the hydro cycle which, through the Rankine Cycle, in my view acts as the global thermostat.
    Most people think that the earth is comprised of 70% water area; but in fact it is very much greater than that when you consider the water interface involved in the flora and fauna upon our planet.
    Destruction of Rain Forests, for whatever purpose reduces the ability of this atmospheric Rankine Cycle to push large amounts of energy up through the atmosphere, oblivious of CO2 etc. with a proportion ending up nudging the Tropopause to radiate into space.
    Additionally they contribute to the monsoon cycles providing much needed water to the dryer areas.
    They are vital to our climate stability and should be protected wherever possible.

    The bees buzz. Anyone care to smoke them out?

  9. ‘Climate change’ deforests nothing. As successional forests show, if climate changes, somdoes the forest. OTH, if you clear cut it, same thing happens but on longer time scales. Very hard to fool Ma Nature.

  10. “… rare dry forests are located in the southwest of the country, in the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena region”


    Magdalena is mid-country in the Andes, Chocó is in the north of Ecuador, and Tumbes is a province and region in northern Peru.


  11. for those interested in knowing,

    what my results are showing,

    deforestation causes [local] cooling, rather than warming e.g. when you study the results from Tandil in Argentine where they chopped all the trees away.


    forestation causes [local] warming, as the results from Las Vegas will show, where they turned a desert into an oasis.

    [if you study the trend over the past 40 years, especially on minima]

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