LA VIRGEN, Costa Rica — Over just a few decades in the mid-20th century, this small country chopped down a majority of its ancient forests. But after a huge conservation push and a wave of forest regrowth, trees now blanket more than half of Costa Rica.
Far to the south, the Amazon forest was once being quickly cleared to make way for farming, but Brazil has slowed the loss so much that it has done more than any other country to limit the emissions leading to global warming.
And on the other side of the world, in Indonesia, bold new promises have been made in the past few months to halt the rampant cutting of that country’s forests, backed by business interests with the clout to make it happen.
With the recent signs of progress, long-wary environmental groups are permitting themselves a burst of optimism about the world’s forests.
“The public should take heart,” said Rolf Skar, who helps lead forest conservation work for the environmental group Greenpeace. “We are at a potentially historic moment where the world is starting to wake up to this issue, and to apply real solutions.”
Still, Greenpeace and other groups expect years of hard work as they try to hold business leaders and politicians accountable for the torrent of promises they have made lately.