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Reforestation is critical to tackling climate change, research shows

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A report released by the Science journal has detailed the huge potential of reforestation. The authors found that there is: "room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover, which could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon in areas that would naturally support woodlands and forests."

forest

Image Credit: jplenio via Pixabay

Deforestation is one of the most destructive actions humans have taken. It not only destroys villages and landscapes, but also decreases the planet's ability to deal with the amount of carbon dioxide generated by our burning of fossil fuels.

It's not often that we are presented with such an opportunity for restoration, but what exactly is the science behind it?

As detailed in the journal article, the latest special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that an increase of 1 billion hectares of forest will be necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050.

Photosynthesis, the process by which energy, carbon dioxide and water are used by plants to grow would be the cause of the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

forest

Image Credit: Pixabay via Pexels

The report found that over half of the tree restoration potential can be found in only six countries: Russia, the US, Australia, China, Canada and Brazil. 

Although the report yields positive results, it does highlight the obstacles that many countries may face in their optimism surrounding reforestation. The article reports that in the Bonn Challenge - a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land into restoration by 202 and 350 million hectares by 2030 - of the 10% of the world's countries that have pledged to the challenge, "over 43% of the countries have committed to restore an area that is less than 50% of the area available for restoration."

As a result of this, the authors are calling for better evaluation and overseeing of such plans for reforestation.

Finally, the report warns that "if we cannot deviate from the current trajectory, the global potential canopy cover may shrink by ~223 million hectares by 2050, with the vast majority of losses occurring in the tropics."

Although the results produce a beacon of hope, the report also proves the urgent need for action.

Lead Image Credit: JordanEightySeven via Flickr




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