Deforestation and forests lost or damaged due to environmental change are fast outstripping current rates of forest regrowth, according to an international team of scientists.
Their first-of-its-kind study reveals the total amount of carbon being taken up in aboveground forest growth was only enough to counterbalance a quarter (26%) of the current carbon emissions from tropical deforestation and degradation.
The research, published today in Nature, assesses the carbon storage potential and current limits of tropical forest regrowth in the fight against climate and ecological emergencies.
The research utilised Cardiff University expertise and was led by a team at Bristol University together with environmental scientists from the USA and Europe. Collaborating with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, the international group used satellite data across the world’s three largest tropical forests to investigate how much carbon they were removing from the atmosphere.
Dr T.C. Hales, Reader in Earth Science at Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences who co-authored the study, said: “Currently there is a huge focus on tree-planting as a method for mitigating our carbon footprint. Leading businesses and governments have to focus on the restoration of barren ground, rather than considering the importance of forests that may have been affected by previous logging.