It is increasingly recognized that climate change has the potential to threaten people and nature, and that it is imperative to tackle the drivers of climate change, namely greenhouse gases. One way to slow climate change is to increase the number of trees on Earth, as they, through photosynthesis, take up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, converting it to carbon products which are stored in the vegetation (in the form of wood, roots, leaves) and oxygen.
New forests continue to accumulate carbon for hundreds of years. Therefore, forestation projects are one way of generating 'carbon credits', which are tradable units on the carbon market. The more carbon is stored in the vegetation, the more profitable such projects are.
Restoring forests should bring especially high carbon returns in areas where plants grow fast and to big sizes, but where past disturbances such as deforestation, fires, and degradation have resulted in much of the vegetation being destroyed, because the difference between what is there and what could potentially be there is so large. However, little information exists on where such areas are, and how big their carbon storage potential is.
Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa have now developed a method to calculate the difference between the potential carbon that could be stored in vegetation if there were no disturbances and the carbon that is currently stored in vegetation in tropical Africa.
The researchers based their analysis on a satellite-derived map of current carbon being stored in vegetation. Combining it with data on environmental factors that affect plant growth, such as climate and soil, they could model the maximum amount of carbon that could be stored in vegetation across tropical Africa. By subtracting the actual amount of carbon currently stored in vegetation from this,
|Contact: Michelle Greve|