Reuters

SKINHEAD EARTH?

Eight thousand years ago, when humans played only bit parts in the world ecosystem, trees covered two-fifths of the land. Since then, humans have grown in number while thinning and shaving the forests to cook, keep warm, grow crops, plank ships, frame houses, and make paper. Fires, saws, and axes have cleared about half of the original forestland, and some analysts warn that within decades, the remaining natural forests will disappear altogether.

But forests matter. A good deal of the planet's biological diversity lives in forests (mostly in the tropics), and this diversity diminishes as trees fall. Healthy

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