Adding 1 billion hectares of forest could help check global warming

first_img By Alex FoxJul. 4, 2019 , 2:00 PM They analyzed nearly 80,000 satellite photographs for current forest coverage. The team then categorized the planet according to 10 soil and climate characteristics. This identified areas that were more or less suitable for different types of forest. After subtracting existing forests and areas dominated by agriculture or cities, they calculated how much of the planet could sprout trees.Earth could naturally support 0.9 billion hectares of additional forest—an area the size of the United States—without impinging on existing urban or agricultural lands, the researchers report today in Science. Those added trees could sequester 205 gigatons of carbon in the coming decades, roughly five times the amount emitted globally in 2018. “This work captures the magnitude of what forests can do for us,” says ecologist Greg Asner of Arizona State University in Tempe, who was not involved in the research. “They need to play a role if humanity is going to achieve our climate mitigation goals.”Adding forests wouldn’t just sequester carbon. Forests provide a host of added benefits including enhanced biodiversity, improved water quality, and reduced erosion. Estimates of how much forest restoration on this scale would cost vary, but based on prices of about $0.30 a tree, Crowther says it could be roughly $300 billion.Exactly how much carbon future forests could store may not be crystal clear, but Duncanson says NASA has new instruments in space—like the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) aboard the International Space Station—that will use lasers to create high-resolution 3D maps of Earth’s forests from canopy to floor. These data will add much-needed precision to existing estimates of aboveground carbon storage. “With GEDI we can take this paper as a stepping stone and inform it with much more accurate carbon estimates,” Duncanson says. “There have always been large uncertainties on large-scale carbon totals, but we have richer data coming soon.”*Correction, 10 July, 11:40 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the rise in global temperatures is measured against the climate prior to the industrial revolution. Global temperatures could rise 1.5° C above preindustrial levels by as early as 2030 if current trends continue, but trees could help stem this climate crisis. A new analysis finds that adding nearly 1 billion hectares of forest could remove two-thirds of the roughly 300 gigatons of carbon humans have added to the atmosphere since the 1800s. “Forests represent one of our biggest natural allies against climate change,” says Laura Duncanson, a carbon storage researcher at the University of Maryland in College Park and NASA who was not involved in the research. Still, she cautions, “this is an admittedly simplified analysis of the carbon restored forests might capture, and we shouldn’t take it as gospel.” The latest report from the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended adding 1 billion hectares of forests to help limit global warming to 1.5° C by 2050. Ecologists Jean-Francois Bastin and Tom Crowther of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and their co-authors wanted to figure out whether today’s Earth could support that many extra trees, and where they might all go. J. Bastin, et. al., Science 365, 76, 2019 This is where the world could support new forests. The map excludes existing forests, urban areas, and agricultural lands. Adding 1 billion hectares of forest could help check global warmingcenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more