Saving trees in tropics could cut emissions by one-fifth, study shows

Jun 06, 2014
tropics
Tropical forest in Martinique near the city of Fond St-Denis. Credit: Wikipedia

Reducing deforestation in the tropics would significantly cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere – by as much as one-fifth – research shows.

In the first study of its kind, scientists have calculated the amount of carbon absorbed by the world's and the amounts of created by loss of trees, as a result of human activity.

They found that tropical forests absorb almost two billion tonnes of carbon each year, equivalent to one-fifth of the world's , by storing it in their bark, leaves and soil. However, an equivalent amount is lost through logging, clearing of land for grazing, and growing biofuel crops such as palm oil, soya bean and sugar. Peat fires in forests add significantly to the greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers estimate that if all human-related deforestation of the tropics were to stop, the forests could absorb more carbon than at present, equivalent to one-fifth of global emissions.

Researchers say carbon emissions from tropical forests will increase as the climate warms, as rising temperatures accelerate the decay of dead plants and trees, giving off more CO2. Global temperatures are forecast to rise by two degrees by the year 2099, which is predicted to increase annual carbon emissions from the forest by three-quarters of a billion tonnes.

Scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Leeds analysed data from multiple previous studies, including satellite studies, to determine the amount of carbon absorbed and emitted by the world's tropical forests in South and Central America, equatorial Africa and Asia.

Their study, published in Global Change Biology, was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Professor John Grace of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: "If we limit in the tropical forests of the world, this could play a valuable role in helping to curb the rise in in the atmosphere. Preventing further losses of carbon from our tropical forests must remain a high priority."

Explore further: Meeting to cover cleanup plan for former nuke missile site

Related Stories

Forests absorb one third our fossil fuel emissions

Jul 15, 2011

The world's established forests remove 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon per year from the atmosphere – equivalent to one third of current annual fossil fuel emissions – according to new research published in the journal ...

A new look at old forests

Jun 03, 2014

As forests age, their ability to grow decreases, a new study by Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) scientists and colleagues has determined. Since most U.S. forests are maturing from regeneration that began ...

Recommended for you

Water point 'bank machines' boost Kenya slums

3 hours ago

Around the world people use bank machines to access cash: but in the Kenyan capital's crowded slums, people now use similar machines to access an even more basic requirement—clean water.

Nemo's garden off Italy offers hope for seabed crops

3 hours ago

In the homeland of pesto, a group of diving enthusiasts have come up with a way of growing basil beneath the sea that could revolutionise crop production in arid coastal areas around the world.

H2O: The province of provinces

12 hours ago

Unsafe drinking water is a topic usually connected to the developing world. But the regular recurrence of boil-water advisories, and widely publicised outbreaks in towns like Walkerton and Kashechewan have ...

China announces climate target for Paris deal

15 hours ago

Top carbon polluter China confirmed it will try to cap its rising emissions before 2030 while the U.S. and Brazil pledged to boost renewable energy sources in a series of announcements Tuesday in anticipation ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 06, 2014
"Generally speaking, I'm much more of a conformist, but it happens I have strong views about climate because I think the majority is badly wrong, and you have to make sure if the majority is saying something that they're not talking nonsense." - Freeman Dyson
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Jun 07, 2014
"Generally speaking,blah blah blah spamming post about Dyson
@shootist
I think Maggnus said it best, so I will copy it here
MAGGNUS adds gthe REST of the story with
Hey troll, here's what Freeman also said: " No doubt that warming is happening. I don't think it is correct to say "global," but certainly warming is happening. I have been to Greenland a year ago and saw it for myself. And that's where the warming is most extreme. And it's spectacular, no doubt about it. And glaciers are shrinking and so on."
So why don't you mention that part SHootist? Why be such a creep?
and from Pink
"No balloon and no aeroplane will ever be practically successful."
-William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin
If you *have to* pick a genius scientist as your contrarian idol, a towering giant of Lord Kelvin's stature beats the pants off dinky wee Freeman Dyson.
shooty = spamming troll

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.