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

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

Devastating human impact on the Amazon rainforest revealed

Journal information: Global Change Biology

Citation: Saving trees in tropics could cut emissions by one-fifth, study shows (2014, June 6) retrieved 21 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-06-trees-tropics-emissions-one-fifth.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

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

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