Forests around the world absorb 2.4 billion tons of carbon per year, which is about one third of annual human-generated fossil fuel emissions. “What this research tells us is that forests play a much larger role as carbon sinks as a result of tree growth and forest expansion,” said Dr Pep Canadell. (Source: CSIRO)
Conversely, deforestation is causing 2.9 billion tons of carbon emissions per year. Simply reducing or halting deforestation would make a positive impact on our growing climate change problem. Forests also provide habitat and food for wild animals, generate oxygen, and prevent erosion. These are just some of the free services they provide for many species. Regrowing tropical forests destroyed by slash and burn efforts to convert wild land to farming, can help reduce fossil fuel emissions. Tropical forest regrowth is estimated to remove 1.6 billion tons of carbon per year. Regrowing tropical forests also helps the many species living in tropical ecosystems, which are often very rich in biodiversity.
A program supported by the United Nations, Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), has been working to buy up forests in order to protect them from conversion to agriculture and commercial development. The program has 35 partner countries, and is working in thirteen countries on pilot projects focused on forest preservation and regrowth. Norway is the largest donor to REDD, having contributed over $100 million dollars since the launch in 2008. When some people see a forest, they imagine lumber, and paper products, but forests are worth far more to the planet and other species, than they are for just for consumer products.
You can replant a tree just by accumulating butterfly credits on Care2 and redeeming them by clicking the Plant a Tree button. If you want to plant more trees, Heifer International accepts donations in exchange for planting multiple seedlings.
Image Credit: Hansueli Krapf