The following article, Forests Can Store Massive Amounts Of Carbon To Combat Climate: Study, was first published on Flag And Cross.
Forests have the capacity to store massive amounts of carbon to help combat climate change, according to a new study.
Researchers found that forests around the world have the potential to store up to 226 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon – highlighting the importance of forest conservation in fighting global warming.
The research, published in the journal Nature and involving hundreds of scientists worldwide, brings to light the critical importance of natural, diverse forests in contributing to 30 percent of carbon drawdown potential.
However, forests cannot be a substitute for cutting fossil fuel emissions. If emissions continue to rise, the study warns, then ongoing droughts, fires, and warming will threaten forests and limit their ability to absorb carbon.
Study lead author and doctoral student Lidong Mo said: “Most of the world’s forests are highly degraded. In fact, many people have never been in one of the few old-growth forests that remain on Earth.
“To restore global biodiversity, ending deforestation must be a top priority.”
Due to ongoing deforestation, the total amount of carbon stored in forests is 328 Gt below its natural state, with much of this land now used for extensive human development including urban and agricultural land.
However, outside of those areas, researchers found that forests could capture approximately 226 Gt in regions with a low human carbon footprint if they were allowed to recover.
Around 61 percent of this potential could be achieved by protecting existing forests and allowing them to grow to maturity.
Researchers, led by the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich, used a large range of comprehensive approaches, including vast ground-sourced data and satellite datasets, to gather its information.
The dataset revealed that biodiversity accounts for around half of the global forest productivity.
As such, the researchers highlighted that, for forests to store as much carbon as possible, restoration efforts should include a natural diversity of species, as well as sustainable agricultural, forestry, and restoration practices.
The authors stress that responsible restoration is a social endeavor that requires equitable development, driven by policies that prioritize the rights of local communities and Indigenous people.
Thomas Crowther, senior author of the paper and professor at ETH Zurich, said: “We need to redefine what restoration means to many people.
“Restoration is not about mass tree plantations to offset carbon emissions.
“Restoration means directing the flow of wealth towards millions of local communities, Indigenous populations, and farmers that promote biodiversity across the globe.
“Only when healthy biodiversity is the preferred choice for local communities will we get long-term carbon capture as a bi-product.
“My biggest fear is that corporations misuse this information as an excuse to avoid cutting fossil fuel emissions.
“The more we emit, the more we threaten nature and people. There can be no choice between reducing emissions and protecting nature because we urgently need both.”
Historically, the forest carbon potential has been a highly controversial topic.
Four years ago, a study published in the journal Science found that the restoration of forests could capture over 200 Gt of carbon – which could draw down approximately 30 percent of greenhouse gases caused by human activity.
While this study elevated a discussion about the role of nature in fighting climate change, it also raised concerns about the adverse environmental impacts of mass tree plantations, carbon offsetting schemes, and greenwashing.
While some scientific studies have supported the scale of this finding, others argued that this forest carbon estimate could be up to four or five times too high.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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