Nature & Environment
Newly grown rainforests capture more carbon
By T.K. Randall
February 6, 2016 · 8 comments
New-growth rainforests are critical to curbing carbon emissions. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Deyvid Setti
A new study has revealed that regrown rainforests absorb up to 11 times more carbon than old forests.
The world's rainforests have long played a critical role in the struggle against climate change with deforestation accounting for up to 20% of the entire world's carbon emissions.
Existing old-growth forests are important because they are the largest terrestrial carbon sinks on the planet, but now scientists studying the role of new-growth forests have determined that regrown vegetation actually absorbs up to 11 times more carbon than the plants in old-growth forests.
The discovery was made by compiling a map of 1,500 plots at 45 sites across South and Central America to determine the carbon sequestration potential of areas across the Neotropics.
It is believed that new-growth forests absorb more carbon because the trees grow quickly to help accelerate their access to sunlight and nutrients while sequestering more carbon in the process.
The find means that regrowing forests - either by actively planting trees or by protecting areas so that they can grow naturally - is an important part of tackling climate change.
"Active forest restoration can be an expensive process, and it may not be cost-effective or even necessary in every case," said study co-author Professor Susan Letcher.
"In landscapes with low levels of degradation, simply protecting young forests and allowing them to develop may be the best strategy."
Source: BBC News
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