humans; 60 percent of Argentina's wood is produced in plantations which constitute just 2.2
percent of the total Argentinean forest area, thus relieving the other 97.8 percent of the forests.
For another thing, plantations are typically claimed to be huge. WWF states that plantations
"make up large tracts of current forest area." Of course, words such as "large tracts" are
vague, but according to FAO, plantations make up just 3 percent of the world's forest area."
It is also interesting if Lovejoy really wants to commit to an idea, which his old organization (WWF)
actually abandoned some two years because it became too obviously wrong, namely the decline of the
worth of the biosystem. Let us just see the issue from the book (SE:17):
"Finally, WWF uses among other measures these forest estimates to make a so-called
Living Planet Index, supposedly showing a decline over the past 25 years of 30 percent
"implying that the world has lost 30 per cent of its natural wealth in the space of one
generation." This index uses three measures: the extent of natural forests (without
plantations), and two indices of changes in populations of selected marine and freshwater
vertebrate species. The index is very problematic. First, excluding plantations of course
ensures that the forest cover index will fall (since plantations are increasing), but it is unclear
whether plantations are bad for nature overall. Plantations produce much of our forest goods,
reducing pressure on other forests in Argentina, 60 percent of all wood is produced in
plantations which constitute just 2.2 percent of the total forest area, thus relieving the other
97.8 percent of the forests. While WWF states that plantations "make up large tracts of
current forest area," they in fact constitute only 3 percent of the world's total forest area.
Second, when using 102 selected marine and 70 selected freshwater species there is
naturally no way of ensuring that these species are representative of the innumerable other
species. Actually, since research is often conducted on species that are known to be in trouble
(an issue we will return to in the next chapter, but basically because troubled species are the
ones on which we need information in order to act), it is likely that such estimates will be
grossly biased towards decline.
Third, in order to assess the state of the world, we need to look at many more and better
measures. This is most clear when WWF actually quotes a new study that shows the total
worth of the ecosystem to be $33 trillion annually (this problematic study estimating the
ecosystem to be worth more than the global production at $31 trillion we will discuss in Part
V). According to WWF, it implies that when the Living Planet Index has dropped 30 percent,
that means that we now get 30 percent less from the ecosystem each year that we now lose
some $11 trillion each year. Such a claim is almost nonsensical. Forest output has not
decreased but actually increased some 40 percent since 1970. And the overwhelming value of
the ocean and coastal areas are in nutrient recycling, which the Living Planet Index does not
measure at all. Also, marine food production has increased more than 60 percent since 1970
(see Figure 58). Thus, by their own measures, we have not experienced a fall in ecosystem
services but actually a small increase."
It is fine, if Lovejoy wants to accept the ill-documented and abandoned WWF idea that we are
actually loosing some $11 trillion each year partly due to forest loss, but since this does manifestly not
come from forest products, it would seem appropriate if he were to attempt to document how this could
actually be the case with a loss of biodiversity at the level of 0.014% per year.