Forest cover change is driven by complex processes that depend on political, conservation, and biophysical conditions. At present, mountain areas worldwide are undergoing intense forest cover change. Local-scale studies exist, but policy makers lack reliable and consistent information at the regional scale about long-term trends, controlling factors, and the success of existing policy measures. Long-term forest cover change data based on advanced image preprocessing procedures have recently become available. This study explores the potential of such data for a regional-scale analysis of forest cover change in mountain areas by analyzing forest cover change in the Romanian Carpathian Ecoregion (about 107,000 km2) between 1985 and 2010. It shows that (1) extrapolations from local to regional scale are inaccurate, (2) European forest protection policies have been unsuccessful, and (3) the Romanian Carpathians are greening due to land abandonment in remote areas.
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