A universal turnaround has been detected in many countries of the World from shrinking to expanding forests. The forest area of western Europe expanded already in the 19th century. Such early trends of forest resources cannot be associated with the rapid rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide nor with the anthropogenic climate change, which have taken place since the mid 20th century. Modern, most recent spatial patterns of forest expansions and contractions do not correlate with the geography of climate trends nor with dry versus moist areas. Instead, the forest resources trends of nations correlate positively with UNDP Human Development Index. This indicates that forest resources of nations have improved along with progress in human well-being. Highly developed countries apply modern agricultural methods on good farmlands and abandon marginal lands, which become available for forest expansion. Developed countries invest in sustainable programs of forest management and nature protection. Our findings are significant for predicting the future of the terrestrial carbon sink. They suggest that the large sink of carbon recently observed in forests of the World will persist, if the well-being of people continues to improve. However, despite the positive trends in domestic forests, developed nations increasingly outsource their biomass needs abroad through international trade, and all nations rely on unsustainable energy use and wasteful patterns of material consumption.