Fostering forest regrowth is a very convenient way to help against the ravaging effects of climate change, a new study shows. According to the research, the natural regeneration of tropical forests contributes to carbon sequestration, meaning the recapturing of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The study, conducted by a team of 60 researchers, shows that carbon recapture is significant in the case of tropical forests that are allowed to regrow naturally. The survey used data gathered from 43 regions in South America and gives an important insight into the effects of forest preservation and regeneration. According to one of the study’s authors, Saara DeWalt, associate professor at Clemson University, secondary forests, namely those forests that are left to regenerate, should receive more attention as well as increased protection. “Old-growth” forests are already recognized for their crucial role in storing carbon and helping towards counteracting the effects of climate change. By comparison, the role of secondary forests in recapturing carbon from the atmosphere is only now beginning to gain notoriety.
In current practice, once the land is cleared, does not usually receive protection. In light of the new discoveries, the study’s authors hope that lands covered with forests that are naturally regenerating should also be considered for protection. Furthermore, they argue that due to their role in combating climate change, “natural regeneration” and “land abandonment” should be included in the overall strategy devised to counter climate change.
As revealed by the study, 95% of the forests considered for the research that hold most carbon storage potential are found in 10 countries located in Latin America. The list of countries is led by Brazil, with 71%, followed by Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico.
Combating climate change requires a highly coordinated and multi-faceted approach. Preventing deforestation has been named as one important step, alongside hydrological regulation and that of habitats, as well as reduction of fossil fuel consumption. In light of the new discoveries, the researchers involved in the current study point out that protecting second-growth forests represents an equally efficient way of recapturing carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere, and one that does not require potentially costly investments, such as those involved in planting trees or farmland conversion.
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