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Forests, the obvious tool to alleviate climate change

Photo credit: Treehugger

© Moisés Silva Lima

The low-tech solution to cut carbon emissions in half

Margaret  Badore

by Margaret Badore

On Monday, leaders from around the world will meet in Paris with the goal of reaching a global agreement to fight disastrous levels of climate change. In order for such a goal to be a success, they’ll need to transition the world away from fossil fuels, but how fast that can happen remains to be seen.

While the switch from carbon-heavy fossil fuels to renewable energy technologies needs to happen as fast as possible in order to cut carbon emission, there’s another tool that shouldn’t be underestimated.

That tool is rainforests.

There’s no shortage of reasons why rainforests should be conserved and restored in their own right. They’re home to cultures, animals and plants that can’t survive anywhere else. But rainforests can help play a big role in sequestering carbon and the world weens itself off of fossil fuels.

In article published in Nature Climate Change earlier this week, climate experts fromRainforest Trust and the Woods Hole Research Center estimate that conserving and restoring tropical forests could cut carbon emissions by half.

It’s well known that forests are an important carbon sink, but right now, rainforest regions areas are contributing to emissions due to forest degradation and deforestation.

The article identifies three ways that trend could be turned around, and rainforests could start helping sequester carbon. First, if deforestation were to stop, so would the emissions produced by harvesting trees and slash-and-burn agriculture. Second, forests that are currently recovering from previous damage can capture carbon at a much higher rate—something to the tune of 3 gigatons of carbon per year.

Read the full article: Treehugger

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.