More Benefits of Reversing Deforestation than Meet the Eye

by Caroline Chmiel

A seemingly simplistic method to battling rising temperatures may be one of the most effective. Saving tropical forests, largely through natural growth, has proven an immensely important and promising strategy to limit climate change impacts. Saving the forests that are left and allowing new ones to grow, or regrow, will impact our planet in many positive ways. Forests play a huge role in the carbon cycle of Earth because trees pull main greenhouse gases, CO2, out of the air and lock carbon away in wood and in soil beneath them. When forests are destroyed, typically through burning, CO2 is pumped back into the air, substantially contributing to raising temperatures and climate change. Burning of coal, oil and natural gas moves carbon out of the ground and into the active carbon cycle causing the globe to warm more rapidly now than in any similar period. Research displays a hopeful method for the control of CO2 cycle: if forests around the globe are reclaimed and burning comes to a halt, forests will evermore naturally help pull dangerous emissions from the air, preventing quick, out of control, temperature growth.

Examples of countries implementing these methods, whether rapidly successful or slowly executing change, include Costa Rica, Brazil and Indonesia. At the forefront of reversing deforestation are the undertakings of Costa Rica. Policies pushing regrowth, and the fall of beef market lead farmers and the government to allow forests to reclaim land, began 45 years ago. Now, more than half of the country is covered in forests. Better than countries spending billions on carbon capture programs is simply allowing and helping the natural growth of trees.

In comparison, Brazil’s progress in environmental soundness began only about a decade ago, controlling rampant deforestation. The Brazilian government took control by cutting the rate of forest loss by 83 percent. The CO2 kept out of the air in Brazil far exceeded anything any other country has done to slow global warming. The impressive and inspiring status of Brazil has ignited hope for Indonesia’s forest state. Deforestation remains a pressing issue, with the production of vegetable oil from palm trees a profitable business opportunity. The economic incentive here provides difficulty in attempting to stop deforestation with government intervention, as profiteers will simply go elsewhere. Aiding our globe in reversing to its natural state continues to prove successful in at least slowing climate change.

Gillis, Justin (2014, December 23). Restored Forests Breathe Life Into Efforts Against Climate Change New York Times.

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