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Environment and History

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Environment and History

From Floods to Reforestation: The Forest Transition in Switzerland

A.S. Mather and J. Fairbairn

Environment and History 6(2000): 399-421

The forest area in Switzerland has been expanding for more than one hundred years, after a long period of contraction culminating in an apparently accelerated phase of deforestation in the first half of the 19th century. The nature and causes of this transition from net deforestation to net reforestation are considered. It is concluded that the perception of a resource crisis played a key role, but also that various passive factors facilitated an end of deforestation and the beginning of reforestation. The question of the comparability of the Swiss case to that of modern developing countries currently experiencing rapid deforestation is considered.

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