IL global forest restoration could theoretically capture an additional 226 gigatons of carbon in their natural habitat, contributing to warming of the planet, as reported in a new study published in the journal Nature. Celebrated in Italy on 21 November national tree dayAn anniversary created to enhance the Italian arboreal heritage and remember the fundamental role played by forests and woodlands for our ecosystem.

Tons of CO2 can be captured by restoring forests

IL new study Sheds new light on the potential role of global forests in combating climate change. According to this research, restoring forests where they grow naturally could be a far-reaching solution, Capturing an amount of CO2 equivalent to about one third of human emissions From the beginning of the industrial age. The work involves more than 200 authors and is based on data collected from satellites and field surveys. One of the main objectives is to address controversies arising from previous studies Clear Vision and a comprehensive description of the potential contribution of forests to mitigating the effects of climate change.

The central idea of ​​this new study is Most of the extra storage capacity This would likely be achieved by allowing existing forests to reach maturity. An approach that, while promising, raises important questions. Self We will protect all existing forests, What will be the impact on timber resources, rubber and palm oil? And how quickly can forests actually store carbon? Furthermore, the risk of losses caused by fire, drought and pests in the context of climate change is an aspect that should not be underestimated.

Are forests the only solution to global warming?

Professor Thomas Crowther, lead author of the study and professor of ecology at ETH Zurich, warned that to achieve this target of 226 gigatons of storage would essentially be needed. reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, They say that continuing to emit carbon would threaten the entire global forest system and limit its potential contribution. Forests, critical to addressing both the climate and biodiversity crises, are increasingly becoming the focus of attention. In addition to providing food, shelter, and shade for humans and other species, they play a vital role in cleaning air and water and absorbing atmospheric carbon. However, in the context of climate change, an important question emerges: To what extent can we really rely on trees to solve the ongoing crisis?

Professor Crowther, author of a study already in 2019, considers this fear Forests can be exploited as a kind of silver bullet, In 2019, he acknowledged that his use of foul language had led to misconceptions about trees As a unique response to climate change, The question now is whether countries and companies can continue to use forests as a means of offsetting carbon emissions, allowing long-term use of fossil fuels.

Scientific debate on afforestation

The carbon estimate of 226 gigatons, compared to the previous figure of 205 gigatons, highlights a significant difference. Both documents are not included urban areas, crops and pastures, But include pastures where animals can graze at low density. In new research, 61% of additional storage of carbon will arise from the protection of forests By growing trees in existing and deforested areas with the remaining 39% reduced human footprint. However, in 2019, all carbon came from trees growing outside existing forests, leading to scientific criticism and heated debate. Simon Lewis, professor of global change science at University College London, contributed one of seven critiques published in Science that year. However, today he says the new study is “fair.” When Scientific debate continuesIt is clear that carbon sequestration by forests must be kept in perspective, keeping in mind the limited amount of land available for forests and the need to preserve ecosystem diversity.

Recovery efforts, while important, have presented significant challenges. Often, countries and companies have invested in large-scale plantation projects or monoculture of non-native commercial species, which has negative impacts on biodiversity. Professor Crowther emphasizes that Recovery must be led by local communities, to cooperate with nature to improve our conditions. His non-profit organization, Restore, connects community projects like an agroforestry farm in Ethiopia with potential supporters.

Commitment towards forest conservation is necessary

“We are moving towards a future in which climate-related events will be increasingly violent, it becomes fundamental to know in advance the sustainability status of trees because otherwise we risk that our allies in the fight against global warming and climate change Instead of being, they will become our allies. Treated as obstacles capable of causing potential harm” he said recently. Stefano MancusoProfessor of Arboriculture at the University of Florence. “Trees cool the environment, waterproof the soil, allow water to flow more evenly, and provide an infinite range of benefits, which, however, are not often understood by people. That’s why we thought of sensors that are placed on trees and measure their benefits in real time. Hour by hour they show what that tree is providing to the citizens in terms of energy savings, carbon dioxide stabilization, removal of pollutants etc.” Italy will have to plant 230 million treesAs highlighted by ASVIS, which takes stock of the European Commission’s national policies and directives related to Goal 11 of the UN Agenda 2030.

Despite efforts, it remains uncertain how much such projects can be scaled up. Matthew Fagan, professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, raises Doubt about new estimate, consider this very optimistic. It expresses concern about people’s lack of consideration for fire and warns about the effects of warming trees in cold, dry climates. It seems clear that almost everyone agrees on one fundamental point: to address Climate change and biodiversity is being lost A decisive commitment is needed to reduce fossil fuel emissions And in the conservation of primary forests. Only through concrete and sustainable actions will its full exploitation be possible. potential of forests In reducing the effects of climate change.

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