Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Natural regeneration of tropical forests helps global climate mitigation and forest restoration

23.05.2016

New study looks at 43 regions in Latin America

Climate scientists have long recognized the importance of forest conservation and forest regrowth in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration -- capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. But the detailed information required to make accurate estimates of this potential has remained elusive.


Pasture with young second-growth forest in the background in Chiapas, Mexico.

Credit: Robin Chazdo

Now, an international team of 60 scientists, working together as the 2ndFOR Network, has completed studies on the effects of forest conservation and secondary forest regeneration across 43 regions in Latin America.

In an article titled "Carbon sequestration potential of second-growth forest regeneration in the Latin American tropics," published today in the journal Science Advances, University of Connecticut ecologist and evolutionary biologist Robin Chazdon and her colleagues report a series of new findings.

Long-term studies

"This study uses knowledge gained from long-term studies of tropical forests to address a pressing societal need," says Saran Twombly, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research through NSF's Long Term Research in Environmental Biology, and Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, programs. "It shows that natural processes can provide a solution to the excess carbon dioxide threatening the planet."

The studies aimed to model the areas covered by regrowth forests across the lowlands of the Latin American Tropics in two age classes; to project potential above-ground carbon storage in these young forests over four decades; and to illustrate alternative scenarios for carbon storage where 0-80 percent of these forests are allowed to regenerate.

Chazdon says that "this research is vital because actively growing vegetation takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and converts it to plant tissues such as wood and leaves. Old-growth forests contain large stocks of carbon in their biomass. When these forests are cleared and burned, this carbon is released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. This is one of the main reasons why it is important to halt deforestation."

But scientists have also learned that when forests regrow, their carbon stocks in above-ground biomass increase over time, depending on climate, prior land use and features of the surrounding landscape.

"This regrowth can happen without planting trees, through the spontaneous process of natural regeneration," says Chazdon. "This is a low-cost way of restoring forests and of reaching carbon mitigation goals."

Major findings

Among the major findings of the study are:

  • Models of forest age in 2008 show that 17 percent of the forest area in lowland Latin America consists of young second-growth forest (1-20 years) and 11 percent consists of intermediate age forest (20-60 years).

     

     

  • Assuming that 100 percent of the second growth persists and regenerates over 40 years, carbon storage capacity doubles in young second growth and increases by 120 percent in intermediate age forests. In both forest age classes, a net gain of 8.48 trillion kilograms of carbon is stored over 40 years.

     

     

  • amount is equivalent to 31.09 trillion kilograms of CO2, which equals all the carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and other industrial processes in all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean from 1993 to 2014.

     

     

  • Ten countries account for 95 percent of this carbon storage potential, led by Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico.

Forest-based climate change solutions

Chazdon says that, remarkably, this huge amount of carbon storage doesn't require costly tree plantings or conversion of farmlands. "It is all based on natural forest regrowth and only requires persistence and protection of the young forests and abandoned agricultural fields."

Forest-based solutions provide many other benefits, including hydrologic regulation, habitats and corridors for conserving biodiversity, and provision of non-timber forest products to local people, Chazdon says.

Prior carbon storage efforts have placed emphasis on avoiding deforestation. But, Chazdon says, "avoiding deforestation and supporting forest regeneration are complementary and mutually reinforcing activities."

While forest regeneration and protection alone cannot fully compensate for greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale, researchers say the study affirms that this strategy can contribute significantly toward reaching national and international carbon mitigation targets.

Media Contact

Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734

 @NSF

http://www.nsf.gov 

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>