Perpetuating the myth of the return of native forests

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Science Advances  17 May 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 5, e1601768
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601768


  • Fig. 1 Classification of tweets associated with Viña et al. (1).

    All tweets (n = 71) refer to forest regrowth, forest recovery, reforestation, and forest conservation, and there was no mention of tree plantations. [Note: percentage of tweets per category shown]

  • Fig. 2

    News articles (n = 19) that referred to Viña et al. (1) were mainly characterized by native forest terms (green), whereas tree plantations were rarely mentioned (red); tree cover, which can refer to both tree plantations and native forest, occurred as well (blue), and afforestation, which is ambiguous, occurred once (gray).


  • Table 1 All the tweets associated with Viña et al. (1) were associated with native forests and not tree plantations.
    Tweets classified by categoryNumber of tweets
    Forest regrowth44
      Logging bans are helping to boost China’s forest regrowth42
      China’s forest regrowth may be receiving a boost from logging bans via @ScienceAdvances1
      50New #ScienceAdvances: Logging Bans Are Working to Boost China’s Forest Regrowth1
    Forest recovery20
      #Effects of conservation policy on China’s forest recovery3
      China is increasing tree cover. Effects of conservation policy on China’s forest recovery15
      Conservation policy has increased forest recovery in 1.6% of China’s territory via @ScienceAdvances1
      China gov logging bans & monitoring to prevent illegal logging has been instrumental in enhancing forest recovery1
      Encouraging on China’s reforestation gains since 20002
      Dinamiche di ricostituzione della foresta in Cina1
    Forest conservation3
      Look at the #forests conservation policy in China over the past decade plus #IntForestDay2
      In #China, #forest conservation policy appears to be working. Important @ScienceAdvances study1
  • Table 2 Examples of how news articles referring to Viña et al. (1) were coded. Note that the codes are in bold.
    ClassificationExample quotes
    Native forest“China’s success in forest conservation” (14)
    “The president has pledged to increase forest cover by 40 million hectares by 2020” (15)
    “The national logging ban has boosted forest growth” (16)
    “As the Chinese government has contended, the program is working and forests are recovering” (17)
    “Government intervention—in the form of logging bans and monitoring activities to prevent illegal logging—was instrumental in enhancing forest recovery” (18)
    “The government in Beijing set about a massive program of reforestation” (19)
    “The national logging ban has boosted forest growth.” (16)
    Tree cover“The program is working and forests are recovering, with about 1.6 percent, or nearly 61,000 square miles, of China’s territory seeing a significant
    gain in tree cover.” (17)
    “According to Tim Forsyth, the paper’s focus on tree cover offers only ‘a very reduced vision of forests,’ because it does not take account of the
    quality of the forest or its impact on biodiversity” (20)
    Plantations“Note that tree plantations as well as natural forests figured into this analysis” (18)
    “Laurance added that from a biodiversity and climate perspective, the forest regrowth represents mixed results because many of the trees that
    have been planted are not native to the country. In addition, many of the new trees are part of single-species plantations, often replacing
    biologically diverse forests” (16)
    “WWF’s director of forests Rod Taylor says the news is positive for China, but agrees this kind of satellite imagery analysis ‘can miss lots of
    shades of grey.’ For instance, it can’t differentiate single species plantations from rainforest or identify selective logging of high-value wood in
    tropical forests, he says.” (20)
    Afforestation“Low resolution could hide even greater success of afforestation policy” (20)

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