HomeEarthEarth scientists simulate the future to model forest restoration impact

Earth scientists simulate the future to model forest restoration impact

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Replanting previously forested landscapes in the tropics is a nature-based solution. It can play a role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But if the new forests will withstand the impacts of future climate change was a big uncertainty. Though there is a reason to be hopeful that tropical forests restored today will survive until the end of the century. The University of Hong Kong, Department of Earth Sciences, scientists have published a paper on this in Nature Climate Change.

Solutions to combat global warming needs reductions in human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But we also need to take active steps to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Restoration of previously deforested landscapes is one of the cheapest and most reliable ways of removing CO2. It can also store it for centuries as the carbon is incorporated into wood and soils. Large investments are likely be made in forest restoration projects. It is important to know if the carbon stored in restored forests will be preserved when subjected to future climate change.

Heat, drought and wildfires influence how tropical forests will fare in the future. But scientists have performed hundreds of computer simulations with a dynamic global vegetation model. It was driven by a range of future climate scenarios and Eco physiological responses to CO2  concentrations. Scientists found that carbon accumulated in regrowing tropical forests will remain in these forests even under the most severe future climate change scenarios.

They also examined hypothetical scenarios where only half of the available land is restored and sites are selected by lowest cost of land. Scientists restored all potential tropical forest areas. But it is likely not feasible for multiple reasons. So, prioritization of forest restoration is needed. Scientists used simulations of forests under future climate change. It helped to point to places where climate change impacts are less severe. These are better suited for concentrating replanting efforts. In Hong Kong, many protected areas contain landscapes that are suitable for forest restoration.

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