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Tropical deforestation: carbon offset falls short

Forests play a vital role in mitigating climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Tropical deforestation, on the other hand, releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making it one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies have shown that even though some forests are recovering, the rate of deforestation is far outpacing regrowth, resulting in a net increase in carbon emissions.

The Importance of Forests in Combating Climate Change

Forests are referred to as the lungs of the earth, and for a good reason. They absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, storing it in their trunks, leaves, and roots. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), forests absorb around 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This makes them one of the most effective natural solutions for mitigating climate change.

The Amazon rainforest contains nearly a third of all remaining tropical rainforests in the world

The Problem of Deforestation and Emissions

Deforestation, which involves the removal of trees or forests for agricultural, commercial, or residential purposes, is responsible for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Trees store carbon, so when they are cut down or burned, the carbon stored in them is released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. This contributes to the greenhouse effect, which traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere and leads to global warming.

Why Forest Regrowth is Falling Short

As part of International Forest Day celebrations, Olokemeji Reforestation project launched its first activities by planting trees in selected portions of the forest reserve. Image credit: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Olokemeji Reforestation project

Forest regrowth refers to the process of replanting trees on land that was previously deforested. Regrowth can help offset carbon emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, a recent study published in the journal Nature found that the carbon sequestered through regrowth was only able to offset 26% of the carbon emissions from new logging and wildfires. This means that forest regrowth alone is not enough to combat the problem of deforestation and its impact on climate change.

The Need for Immediate Action

The findings from the Nature study underscore the need for immediate action to combat deforestation and protect forests worldwide. Governments, businesses, and individuals can all play a role in reducing deforestation by adopting sustainable land-use practices, promoting reforestation and afforestation, and supporting conservation efforts. We can also reduce our carbon footprint by using fewer paper products and supporting sustainable forestry initiatives.

In conclusion, while forest regrowth is a positive step towards reducing carbon emissions, it is not sufficient in combatting the problem of deforestation and its impact on climate change. It is crucial to take action to protect forests and adopt sustainable land-use practices to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and slow the pace of climate change.

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