Saturday, April 18, 2015

The dramatic growth in plant cover will not offset the damage made from deforestation

Tom Bawden in the Independent (UK): The dramatic growth in plant cover in the past decade gives a huge boost to the battle against global warming. But any celebrations should be muted by this sobering fact: the extra carbon being stored by this additional vegetation, while enormou
s, only represents seven per cent of the 60 billion tonnes of carbon that has been emitted into the atmosphere over the same period, which will remain there for centuries.

There is no sense, then, in which the increased carbon uptake of our plantlife detracts from the urgent need to step up the fight against climate change by cutting fossil fuel use and protecting woodland. eThe need to preserve our diminishing rainforests is particularly acute.

This report may have identified a surprisingly big increase in plant cover, but there is nothing unexpected about the confirmation it provided about tropical deforestation.

The devastation of the rainforests is particularly worrying because these not only act as a major carbon sink – they also provide one of the most “biodiverse” habitats in the world, supporting vast networks of inter-dependent species.

Total plant cover has increased in the past decade, but in many cases the quality of this cover is far lower than the loss of the tropical forests it is helping to offset. Only about half of the rainforest loss has been offset by growth in coniferous and mixed-leaf forests, with much of the rest of the increase coming from shrubland and savannas...

Canada wild rye, shot by Dehaan, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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