In the controversy around the inventory of the woods in Flanders the theme was the same: woods are disappearing year after year. To recap, these are the relevant quotes from the tweet of Groen [Flemish Green Party] (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):
Every year, more woods are disappearing in Flanders.
In Flanders, more woods are cleared than planted.
“More being cleared than being planted” and “more are disappearing”, if I understand that well, it means that the area is going down, so less hectares occupied by woods each year that is passing.
The same thing in the foreword of the quiz from De Afspraak [talk show on the Flemish Television] (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):
Environmental organization BOS+ examined at the request of Knack [a Flemish magazine] what the real state of the woods is in Flanders. The study found there are more woods being cleared than planted, contrary to the claims of Schauvliege [Flemish Minister of Nature].
Deforestation permits were issued for on average of 300 hectares of woods per year in the past ten years. In 2014 – the latest year for which figures are available – 263 hectares were cleared. In 2012 it was 195 hectares and in 2013 193 hectares.
More being cleared than being planted, that also looks like a downward trend to me. They also looked at previous years and found that 195 hectares were cleared in 2012, 193 hectares in 2013 and 263 hectares in 2014. So from the years that were presented, one could assume that there was an increase in cleared area over the last three years.
All in all, everything in the communication seems to assume that the numbers go down, that woods got lost. Remember that 263 number. It is important further in the post.
But I had more questions than answers. It was all rather vaguely presented and only with partial numbers. Something didn’t seem right. The first red flag was that if the average number of cleared woods in the last decade is 300 hectares and in the last three years 195, 194 and 263 hectares were cleared, then what about the previous years? 194, 195 and 263 are all less than 300, does this mean that there were much more permits given before that?