Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Loss of Unregarded Forests Is At Danger Level

Three new studies highlight the value of the world’s unregarded forests – and the dangers they face as the climate changes.

About 7,000 sq kms of Amazonia’s forest is destroyed annually. (Credit: Dallas Krentzel, via Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
The world’s unregarded forests are at risk.  Intact forest is now being destroyed at an annual rate  that threatens to cancel out any attempts to contain global warming by controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

Trees in the tropical regions are dying twice as fast as they did 35 years ago – and human-induced climate change is a factor.

And a third study has highlighted the value to humanity of intact forests, while estimating that four-fifths of the Earth’s remaining woodlands are now in some way degraded by human activities.  “This figure,” researchers warn, “is probably an underestimate.”

All three studies confirm the value of forests to the planet – and underline the increasingly dangerous rate of loss.

An international team of researchers report in Nature Communications that they made a computer model of the planet’s atmospheric conditions:  they included natural and human-triggered aerosols, volatile organic compounds, greenhouse gases, and other factors that influence temperature, one of which is albedo:  the scientist’s word for the capacity of terrain to absorb or reflect solar radiation.
Vital stabilizers
... Forests absorb around 25% of carbon emissions from factory chimneys, power stations, and car exhausts; they play a vital role in stabilizing local and regional weather, and they reduce the risk of drought.

Intact forests are home to higher numbers of other species; they sustain many indigenous cultures; their conservation delivers medically-beneficial plants and their degradation drives the spread of infectious diseases.

“It is well-known that forest protection is essential for any environmental solution – yet not all forests are equal,” said James Watson, of the University of Queensland in Australia and the World Conservation Society.

“Forest conservation must be prioritized based on their relative values, and Earth’s remaining forests are the crown jewels, ones that global climate and biodiversity policies must now emphasize.”

Read more at Loss of Unregarded Forests Is At Danger Level

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