We have never really been able to look at trees as the agricultural crop that they are. I am reminded of this fact from this forest watch site at Google, which purports to track deforestation around the world.
I have no problem calling activity in the Amazon where old growth is logged out in a tragedy of the commons "deforestation". But the map is odd to me in the Southeast US. While there likely is some reduction in forested lands around urban areas, overall the US has actually been increasing its forest cover since the early 1900's. But the Google map of the southeast shows lots of forest "loss". It also shows about as much forest "gain". (red is loss, blue is gain, click to enlarge)
Why is that?
Of late, I have spent a lot of time in the southeast and what I have observed are a lot of private forest lands that are harvested for timber. One plot is harvested one year, and fast growing trees are replanted. Then the next year a neighboring plot is harvest, etc, until it all starts over with the first plot. In a large sense this is no different than any other kind of farming, just with a 15 year growing season instead of a one-summer season.
Calling harvested lands in this area "forest loss" and new growth "forest gain" makes about as much sense as calling land held fallow for a season in Iowa as "corn loss" and newly planted land as "corn gain." There is a difference between farming trees and strip-mining them that gets lost in this data.