This article explores temperate forests as a climate change solution. It is based on Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective solutions to reverse global warming.
Again, inside the top 20 is another climate change solution that is based around land use. How we use land and resources will in large part decide how effective we will be in addressing climate change.
As we saw with peatlands, temperate forests are an ecosystem that is associated with massive amounts of carbon emissions.
The authors begin by explaining that: “a quarter of the world’s forests lie in the temperate zone, between 30 and 50 to 55 degrees latitude” and that these can be both deciduous and evergreen.
The authors also explain that “over the course of history, 99 percent of temperate forests have been altered in some way.”
They do however point towards a positive future with the following statement:
“Today forests are on the rise across large swaths of the temperate world, due to reliance on timber imports, improved agricultural productivity resulting in the abandonment of once cleared land, improved forest management practices, and deliberate conservation efforts.”
Let’s turn to the figures that allowed temperate forests to be ranked as the 12th most effective solution to reverse global warming. The drawdown analysis revealed that temperate forests could reduce CO2 emissions by 22.61 gigatons. Unfortunately, global cost and savings data was too variable to be determined for this solution. Regardless of the lack of financial data, the amount of carbon emissions that temperate forests are associated with is massive.
The authors point out that: “the world’s 1.9 billion acres of temperate forests are now a net carbon sink.”
The authors point towards a bright future with the statement that:
“Rising biomass density and overall increase in area mean these ecosystems absorb roughly 0.8 gigatons of carbon each year. There is an opportunity for more sequestration through restoration.”
According to the World Resources Institute more than 1.4 billion additional acres are suitable for restoration. This is certainly a large area for potential.
The authors do point to some of the threats with their statement that:
“While temperate forests are not threatened by the same large-scale deforestation that afflicts the tropics, they continue to be fragmented by development.”
The authors close with the important message that: “restoration is no replacement for protection.”
What you need to know
This article looked into temperate forests as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which ranked this as the 12th most effective solution to reverse global warming.
It is clear that massive amounts of carbon can be prevented from being released by better protection of temperate forests and that more widespread restoration of temperate forests could store even more carbon in this complex ecosystem.
Thank you for reading,
By Barnaby Nash
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