The battle to stop deforestation continued to rage across the planet in 2017, writes Mark Hillsdon. But the year ended with a flurry of new commitments and partnerships aimed at saving the world’s forests, and restoring millions of hectares of degraded land

In one of the year’s most telling reports, scientists from the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) revealed that, due to deforestation and general disturbance, our tropical forests now emit more carbon than they sequester. Researchers mapped the forests using data and satellite images, but as well as looking at the huge areas that had been cleared-felled, they also took into account the impact of activities such as small-scale agriculture and the use of wood for fuel, issues that previous studies had overlooked.

The results showed that forests have become a net source of carbon in the atmosphere, and now add some 425 teragrams a year, equivalent to the annual emissions of all the trucks and cars in the US.

“If we’re to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels, we need to drastically reduce emissions and greatly increase forests’ ability to absorb and store carbon,” said Alessandro Baccini, the study’s lead author. “Forests are the only carbon capture and storage ‘technology’ we have in our grasp that is safe, proven inexpensive, immediately available at scale, and capable of providing beneficial ripple effects – from regulating rainfall to providing livelihoods to indigenous communities.”

For decades the Amazon has been a reluctant...

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Woods Hole Research Center  Amazon  Essity  Cerrado Manifesto  World Resources Institute  WWF  Soy  climate-smart farming  Cocoa & Forests Initiative  Rainforest Alliance 

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