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Historical Deforestation

Ever since the development of agriculture and settlements, humans have converted forest into agroecosystems of various sort, or into urban land. There are numerous references in historical, religious, and anthropological literature to forests that became degraded and were then lost through overharvesting and conversion. For example, extensive forests existed in regions of the Middle East that are now almost entirely deforested. This can be evidenced by reference in the Bible to such places as the Forest of Hamath, the Wood of Ziph, and the Forest of Bethel, the modern locations of which are now desert. The cedars of Lebanon were renowned for their abundance, size, and quality for the construction of buildings and ships, but today they only survive in a few endangered groves of small trees. Much of the deforestation of the Middle East occurred thousands of years ago. However, even during the Crusades of the eleventh century through the thirteenth century, extensive pine forests stretched between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and some parts of Lebanon had cedar-dominated forests into the nineteenth century. These are all now gone.

Similar patterns of deforestation have occurred in many regions of the world, including most of the Mediterranean area, much of Europe, south Asia, much of temperate North and South America, and, increasingly, many parts of the sub-tropical and tropical world.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Cyanohydrins to Departments of philosophy:Deforestation - Historical Deforestation, Deforestation Today, Loss Of A Renewable Resource, Deforestation And Biodiversity, Deforestation And The Greenhouse Effect