Role of forests and soils in climate change mitigation

According to the latest report by the Oxford University, planting trees and improving quality of soils are >the most promissing< tools in the international combat aiming to avoid climate change greater than 2 degrees Celsius. They recommended 2 techniques in particular:
– afforestation – planting trees where there were none before, and
– biochar – improving the soil by burying a layer of dense charcoal.

Due to the significance of the carbon stock capacities of agricultural land and forests, they are important for the climate change mitigation. Another reason is that their exchange of greenhouse gases between soils and vegetation on one hand, and the atmosphere on the other, can go both ways. Relevant to the sector, CO2 differs from other greenhouse gases in that respect, as mentioned above, it can be stored within plants, soil etc. It has been estimated that if just 0,1% of CO2 had been released from Europe’s soils, it would equal the annual emissions from 100 million cars. The Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997 governs accounting of emissions and removals from forests and agriculture with respect to industrialized world (so-called LULUCF sector – land-use, land-use change and forestry). If we continue with numbers, the fact is that deforestation is responsible for around 20% of global CO2 emissions being the main contributor to climate change! The Communication on deforestation has been presented by the European Commission setting the EU’s response to the issue. It was proposed that the EU calls for halting global deforestation by 2030 at the latest and reducing it in tropical areas by at least 50% by 2020 from current levels at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations on the future climate regime. Major climate change and biodiversity benefits aimed for 2020 would be provided by this objective. Also, the Commission proposes to work in the international negotiations on climate change towards the development of a Global Forest Carbon Mechanism, a financial mechanism through which developing countries would be rewarded for emissions reductions achieved by taking action to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. The total amount of funding according to the Communication will depend on the level of actions undertaken by developing countries.

Here you may find WeForest’s video on aforementioned importance of forests for cooling of our Planet.

Written by Ivana Letic

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