Theguardian-Tropical forests losing their ability to absorb carbon, study finds.

 

 

Amazon could turn into source of CO2 in atmosphere by next decade, research suggests

 

 

Tropical forests are taking up less carbon dioxide from the air, reducing their ability to act as “carbon sinks” and bringing closer the prospect of accelerating climate breakdown.

 

 

The Amazon could turn into a source of carbon in the atmosphere, instead of one of the biggest absorbers of the gas, as soon as the next decade, owing to the damage caused by loggers and farming interests and the impacts of the climate crisis, new research has found.

 

 

If that happens, climate breakdown is likely to become much more severe in its impacts, and the world will have to cut down much faster on carbon-producing activities to counteract the loss of the carbon sinks.

 

 

“We’ve found that one of the most worrying impacts of climate change has already begun,” said Simon Lewis, professor in the school of geography at Leeds University, one of the senior authors of the research. “This is decades ahead of even the most pessimistic climate models.”

 

 

For the last three decades, the amount of carbon absorbed by the world’s intact tropical forests has fallen, according to the study from nearly 100 scientific institutions. They are now taking up a third less carbon than they did in the 1990s, owing to the impacts of higher temperatures, droughts and deforestation. That downward trend is likely to continue, as forests come under increasing threat from climate change and exploitation. The typical tropical forest may become a carbon source by the 2060s, according to Lewis.

 

 

“Humans have been lucky so far, as tropical forests are mopping up lots of our pollution, but they can’t keep doing that indefinitely,” he told the Guardian. “We need to curb fossil fuel emissions before the global carbon cycle starts working against us. The time for action is now.”

 

 

At this year’s UN climate talks, known as Cop26 and to be held in Glasgow in November, many countries are expected to come forward with plans to reach net zero emissions by mid-century. But some rich countries and many companies plan to reduce their emissions via offsetting, often by preserving, replanting or growing new forest.

 

 

This research shows that relying on tropical forests is unlikely to be enough to offset large-scale emissions. “There is a lot of talk about offsetting, but the reality is that every country and every sector needs to reach zero emissions, with any small amount of residual emissions needing to be removed from the atmosphere,” said Lewis. “The use of forests as an offset is largely a marketing tool for companies to try to continue with business as usual.”

 

 

The uptake of carbon from the atmosphere by tropical forests peaked in the 1990s when about 46bn tonnes were removed from the air, equivalent to about 17% of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities. By the last decade, that amount had sunk to about 25bn tonnes, or just 6% of global emissions.

 

 

The difference is about the same as a decade of fossil fuel emissions from the UK, Germany, France and Canada put together.

 

 

Climate scientists have long feared the existence of “tipping points” in the climate system, which when passed will condemn the world to runaway global heating. There are many known feedback mechanisms: for instance, the melting of Arctic ice leaves more of the sea uncovered, and, as it is darker than the reflective ice, it absorbs more heat, thus leading to more melting.

 

 

These feedback mechanisms have the potential to accelerate the climate crisis far ahead of what current projections suggest. If forests start to become sources of carbon rather than absorbers of it, that would be a powerful positive feedback leading to much greater warming that would be hard to stop.

 

 

Forests lose their ability to absorb carbon as trees die and dry out from drought and higher temperatures, but the loss of forest area from logging, burning and other forms of exploitation is also a leading factor in the loss of carbon sinks.

 

 

Tom Crowther, founder of the Crowther Lab, who was not involved with the research, told the Guardian: “This analysis provides concerning evidence that, along with continuing deforestation rates, the carbon sequestration rate of tropical forests could also be threatened by increasing tree mortality under climate change. This is very important information, as the capacity of tropical forests to capture anthropogenic carbon emissions could be severely impaired.”

 

 

The study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, tracked 300,000 trees over 30 years, providing the first large-scale evidence of the decline in carbon uptake by the world’s tropical forests. The researchers combined data from two large research networks of forest observations in Africa and the Amazon, as well as years spent travelling to remote field sites, including a week spent in a dug-out canoe to reach Salonga national park in the troubled Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

 

They used aluminium nails to tag individual trees, measuring the diameter and estimating the height of every tree within 565 patches of forest, and returning every few years to repeat the process. This enabled them to calculate the carbon stored in the trees that survived and those that died. They found that the Amazon sink started weakening first, but that African forests are now rapidly following. Amazonian forests are exposed to higher temperatures, faster temperature increases, and more frequent and severe droughts, than African forests.

 

Read more...

Go back

CBFP News

COVID-19 crisis tells world what Indigenous Peoples have been saying for thousands of years - nationalobserver

COVID-19 and other health endemics are directly connected to climate change and deforestation, according to Indigenous leaders from around the world who gathered on March 13, in New York City, for a panel on Indigenous rights, deforestation and related health endemics.

Read more …

A sustainable global economy must arise once COVID-19 pandemic is reversed, UN chief tells G-20 summit - UN

World leaders at the G-20 virtual summit held on Thursday committed to inject over $5 trillion into the global economy to counteract the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also expand manufacturing capacity to meet the huge and increasing demand for medical supplies, which will be made available at an affordable price and in the shortest possible time, pledged the leading economic powers.

Read more …

Join us in the fight against COVID-19! - INTERHOLCO

Whilst our teams continue to guarantee the best customer service in this evolving situation, our thoughts are with the families of those who are suffering and our deepest gratitude goes to the medical personnel who watch over them, at great personal risk. We are thinking outside the box to collect extra funds, critical to prevention and mitigation activities in the Northern part of the Republic of Congo. In a remote area, 1000 km away from the capital Brazzaville, our medical facilities already serve on a daily basis a population of 16’000 inhabitants, including indigenous people.

Read more …

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) update - iucncongress2020

In light of recent developments in France linked to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), IUCN and the Government of France are in close discussion about the impacts on the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020. Together, we are carefully considering any decisions that might need to be taken.​​​​

Read more …

New dates and venue for critical UN Biodiversity Convention meetings, dates for UN Biodiversity Conference 2020 to be adjusted – CBD

The twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-24) will now be held 25 to 30 August 2020; and the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI-3) will take place 1 to 6 September 2020. Both meetings will be held in Ottawa, Canada.

Read more …

China’s Belt and Road Initiative could pose increased risk to endangered wildlife, EIA warns UK MPs - EIA

The global spread of China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) brings with it increased risks of endangered wildlife consumption and illegal wildlife trade, UK politicians were warned. At an event organised by the All-Party Parliamentary China Group in Parliament yesterday (11 March), EIA Wildlife Campaigner and China Specialist Aron White cautioned that the international proliferation of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) – touted as a pillar of the BRI – poses potential risks for biodiversity around the world.

Read more …

Differentiated evolution of the tropical timber trade in 2019 – COMMODAFRICA – ATIBT

The 16 March 2020 article on the COMMODAFRICA website shows that log imports into China have decreased and that sawn timber imports into the European Union are increasing for the second consecutive year.

Read more …

Atibt- Timber sector in the DRC: Study on the state of play of the stakeholders

As part of the implementation of the FLEGT-REDD CERTIFICATION projects set up by the ATIBT and financed by the European Union, the FFEM and the KfW, the Federation of Timber Industrialists, in abbreviation FIB, conducted a study on the state of play of the actors of the forest and wood sector in the DRC.

Read more …

CBFP News Archive

2020