Nav: Home

Area for restoring trees far greater than imagined and 'best climate change solution available'

July 04, 2019

In the first study to quantify how many trees the Earth can support, where, and how much carbon they could store, researchers report that Earth could support enough additional trees to cut carbon levels in the atmosphere by nearly 25% - levels not seen for almost a century. "We all knew restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we had no scientific understanding of what impact this could make," said study coauthor Thomas Crowther. "Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today." Because trees capture and remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, widespread reforestation has been considered one of the most effective weapons against climate change. According to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, an additional 1 billion hectares of forest will be required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. However, it remains unclear if these restoration goals are achievable because researchers do not know how much tree cover might be possible under current or future climate conditions. Here, to explore this, Jean-Francois Bastin, Tom Crowther and colleagues leveraged a unique global dataset of forest observations spanning nearly 80,000 forests, combined with the mapping software of Google Earth Engine, which they used to generate a predictive model to map potential tree cover worldwide under current conditions. Excluding existing trees, agricultural and urban areas, they suggest Earth's ecosystems could support an additional 0.9 billion hectares of tree cover, which, once matured, could sequester more than 200 Gigatons of carbon, or two-thirds of man-made carbon emissions. The global map of reforestation their study provides is essential for making more effective global-scale restoration targets, and for guiding local-scale restoration projects, the authors say. In a related Perspective, Robin Chazdon and Pedro Bancalion underscore the need to act quickly within a narrowing window of time, as currently forested areas continue to decline, and as reforestation efforts become more challenging in a warmer world.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate change scientists should think more about sex
Climate change can have a different impact on male and female fish, shellfish and other marine animals, with widespread implications for the future of marine life and the production of seafood.
Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior
A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The psychology behind climate change denial
In a new thesis in psychology, Kirsti Jylhä at Uppsala University has studied the psychology behind climate change denial.

Related Climate Change Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.