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Climate and human disturbance threatening carbon uptake in re-growing Amazon forest

Climate and human disturbance threatening carbon uptake in re-growing Amazon forest
Amazon forest ecosystem is the world largest carbon sink but slowly transitioning from carbon sink to carbon source as a result of human activities, which are derailing the natural regrowth of the forest. They are areas of the forest re-growing in the Amazon to help reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere that are being limited by climate change and human activities.

The researchers at the University of Bristol published their findings in Nature Communications, suggesting a need for better protection of the re-growing forests if they are to help mitigate the effects of climate change. The researchers found that the forests, which naturally regrow on previously abandoned deforested lands, are developing at different speeds.

Global forests are expected to contribute a quarter of pledged carbon emissions under the Paris Climate Accord of 2015. Countries around the world pledged to restore and increase forest land cover to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement in addressing climate change. Brazil with its large forest cover promised to restore 12 million hectares but has, however, changed its policy according to the findings.
Brazil in 2020 amended its original National Determined Contribution (NDC) pledge under the Paris Agreement such that there’s now no mention of 12 million hectares of forest restoration or elimination of illegal logging.

Forest restoration can be achieved through the natural regrowth of secondary forests which presently cover 20% of the deforested Amazon. And therefore, understanding the effects of environmental and human activities on forest regrowth will help improve estimates of the climate mitigation potential in decades to come. The lead author, Viola Heinrich said, “Our results show the strong effects of key climate and human influence on regrowth, stressing the need to safeguard and expand secondary forests areas if they are to have any significant role in the fight against climate change.”

It is estimated that secondary forests have the potential to absorb carbon emissions 11 times faster than old-growth forests.
The researchers found that the impact of disturbances such as wildfires and repeated deforestation before regrowth reduced the regrowth by 20%- 55% across different areas of Amazon. Henrich said that the models developed in the study will help scientists, policymakers, and forest managers to highlight regions that have the greatest potential for regrowth.

The research team also calculated the contribution of Amazonian Secondary Forest to Brazil’s carbon emissions and found that; preserving the current area under secondary forests can contribute to 6% of Brazil’s emission reduction targets.

Dr. Jo House, a co-author said that “The findings in our study highlight the carbon benefits of forests regrowth and negative impact of human action if these forests are not protected. In the run-up to the 26th conference of the parties, this is a time when countries should be raising their climate ambitions for protecting and restoring forest ecosystems, not lowering them as Brazil seems to have done.”

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  1. shailendra Tiwari says:

    Forests are like lungs of humans for the earth . Reforestation and saving the existing natural forest from human settlements has to be international concern.An international financial body has to be created to fund and monitor this after maping the area through setelite .

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