Effective forest conservation and restoration, along with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, could significantly combat the climate crisis. Research suggests allowing existing trees to mature and restoring degraded areas could sequester 226 gigatonnes of carbon, roughly 50 years’ worth of 2022 US emissions. Human activities have cleared half of Earth’s forests, impacting vital regions like the Amazon and Congo basin.
Protecting standing forests, resembling places like Białowieża forest or California’s sequoia groves, could achieve 61% of this potential, with the remaining 39% through restoring fragmented forests. Biodiversity is crucial, and urgent cuts to fossil fuel emissions are emphasized.
The study acknowledges challenges, including climate change-induced fires and rising temperatures. Prioritizing an end to deforestation is crucial. While leaders pledged to halt deforestation by 2030, progress is slow. Brazil, Colombia, and Indonesia show promise. Tom Crowther of ETH Zurich advocates for diverse projects involving local communities for effective preservation.
The research builds on a 2019 paper, addressing concerns of overstatement. Critics emphasize focusing on slashing emissions, ending deforestation, and restoring ecosystems, aligning with the Paris Agreement. Crowther clarifies restoration isn’t an alternative but complements emission reduction for climate goals.
Source: The Guardian