23 October 2020
Forest Carbon Sinks
By Jess Arvela
Head of Sales & Marketing | Co-Founder
In last week’s Friday Freakout, we discussed climate change as an Australian so this week, we are going to touch on some potential solutions.
“Green Carbon” is carbon stored in forests. As you’d be aware, forests absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, this carbon is stored above ground (in leaves, trunks, and leaf litter) and below ground (in roots, and soil). The amount of carbon stock varies based on the type of forest, which is dictated by the region and climate (Figure 1).
Forests cover 31% of all land area globally, and while deforestation and forest degradation have decreased since 1990, net loss of forest area has continued. It’s now the second leading cause of climate change, responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The real kicker is what we are clearing forests for. So what is this land, these often ancient forests, possibly being used for (Figure 2)?
The solution seems pretty obvious. Given these natives forests huge potential to sequester and store carbon, we need to protect them while regenerating those that have been cleared. The protection of native forests can act as a carbon sink. A carbon sink is a method to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which would otherwise contribute to anthropogenic climate change (Figure 3).
It’s important to note there is no amount of tree planting that can combat the amount of fossil fuels we are combusting. We simply need to stop, switch to renewable energy, heavily invest in other storage and sequestering options, and leave these carbon stores as they are.
There are also entire ecosystems to consider. Who can forget this clip of an Orangutan alone in the wreckage of its home, trying to fight off a bulldozer?