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‘Sink’ Setback

Tropical Forests Releasing Excess Carbon

Dirk Ercken/Shutterstock.com

A study published in the journal Science found that forests across Asia, Latin America and Africa release 468 tons of carbon per year, equivalent to nearly 10 percent of the annual U.S. carbon footprint. Thus, tropical forests may no longer be acting as carbon sinks and could be releasing more carbon than they store.

Lead author Alessandro Baccini, with the Woods Hole Research Center, in Massachusetts, says, “These findings provide the world with a wake-up call on forests. If we’re to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels, we need to drastically reduce emissions and greatly increase forests’ ability to absorb and store carbon.”

Researchers think nearly 70 percent of this loss of carbon storage capacity is caused by small-scale degradation from logging, drought and wildfire. Researchers say that policies to curb deforestation, reduce degradation and restore the integrity of the land could turn forests back into carbon sinks.


This article appears in the April 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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