A group of 40 scientists, spanning five countries has warned halting deforestation is just as urgent as eliminating the use of fossil fuels.
Destroying the world’s forests would release 3 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, more than is locked in all the known reserves of oil, coal and gas globally. If humanity can protect and restore the planets forests, it would achieve 18 percent of the emissions mitigation needed by 2030 to avoid runaway climate change.
“We must protect and maintain healthy forests to avoid dangerous climate change and to ensure the world’s forests continue to provide services critical for the well-being of the planet and ourselves,” the statement reads.
Trees and vegetation in general absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans add to the atmosphere. Despite their importance globally, large tracts of tropical forests, which function as vast carbon sinks, pulling in and holding carbon from the atmosphere, are still being lost in the Amazon, Africa and Indonesia. To make matters worse warming temperatures are fueling huge forest fires in higher latitudes.
Deforestation has been massively reduced in the Amazon, but that hasn’t happened elsewhere.
Photo: “Live oak and trailing branches, Oak Alley Plantation”by Roy Luck is licensed under CC BY 2.0