Summary: Special Section
A Contemporary Assessment of Change in Humid
GREGORY P. ASNER,
THOMAS K. RUDEL, T. MITCHELL AIDE, RUTH DEFRIES,§
AND RUTH EMERSON
Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution, 260 Panama Street, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A., email email@example.com
Departments of Human Ecology and Sociology, Rutgers University, 54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854, U.S.A.
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, P.O. Box 23360, PR 00931-3360, U.S.A.
§Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B), Columbia University, 1200 Amsterdam Avenue, New York,
NY 10027, U.S.A.
Abstract: In recent decades the rate and geographic extent of land-use and land-cover change has increased
throughout the world's humid tropical forests. The pan-tropical geography of forest change is a challenge to
assess, and improved estimates of the human footprint in the tropics are critical to understanding potential
changes in biodiversity. We combined recently published and new satellite observations, along with images
from Google Earth and a literature review, to estimate the contemporary global extent of deforestation,
selective logging, and secondary regrowth in humid tropical forests. Roughly 1.4% of the biome was deforested
between 2000 and 2005. As of 2005, about half of the humid tropical forest biome contained 50% or less tree
cover. Although not directly comparable to deforestation, geographic estimates of selective logging indicate