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Tob Control 8:18-28 doi:10.1136/tc.8.1.18
  • Original article

Global assessment of deforestation related to tobacco farming

  1. Helmut J Geist
  1. Neuss, Germany
  1. Hubertusweg 90, D-41466 Neuss, Germany;HJGeist{at}aol.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVES To assess the global amount of forest and woodland consumed annually for curing tobacco between 1990 and 1995; to estimate tobacco’s share in total deforestation; to rank tobacco-growing countries by the degree of impact of tobacco deforestation; and to indicate environmental criticality emerging from tobacco’s impact on forest resources.

DESIGN Production of country-specific estimates of forests/woodlands needed and depleted on the basis of growing stock/increment of woody biomass involved and wood consumption of tobacco. Comparison of results with secondary statistics on forest cover, deforestation, and population development.

RESULTS An estimated 200 000 ha of forests/woodlands are removed by tobacco farming each year. Deforestation mainly occurs in the developing world, amounting to 1.7% of global net losses of forest cover or 4.6% of total national deforestation. Environmental criticality exists or is emerging in 35 countries with an estimated serious, high, and medium degree of tobacco-related deforestation, mainly in southern Africa, middle east, south, and east Asia, South America, and the Caribbean.

CONCLUSION The hypothesis that deforestation from tobacco production does not have a significant negative effect has to be challenged. For empirical validation, the globally significant pattern of estimated tobacco-related environmental damage ought to be included in international research agendas on global environmental change, to become an integral and rational part of tobacco control policy.

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