CO2 pollution: the forest reaches its limits

European forests at their upper limit - CO2 can hardly be stored anymore

In an article in the renowned journal "Nature Climate Change", researchers pointed to the current situation in European forests and their declining ability to store carbon dioxide (CO2).

Forests are important CO2 stores and therefore crucial for climate protection. During the growth phase, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. For climate protectionists, conservation and afforestation are top priorities.

Study results show that the forest has recovered since 1950 and has increased in area after years of deforestation - positive news in itself, but it is concluded that the performance of the forests as carbon dioxide sinks has increased - however, another study on vegetation and the condition of forests shows alarming results.

Researchers see a change in vegetation in Europe
In order to preserve the capacity of European forests as storage facilities, new ways of managing them have to be broken. The results show that the increase in traffic volume declined significantly between 2005 and 2010. Scientists are not entirely sure why this change has occurred. Some of them assume that the increasingly dry summer months contribute to slower growth and so less CO2 can be absorbed by the trees. Others suspect that the increasing age of forests is a factor. Because older forests are generally more susceptible to forest fires, storm damage and insects. Among other things, this means that carbon dioxide is released back into the environment.

So that the CO2 storage volume of the forests can be maintained, it must be ensured in future that only forest stands that are more susceptible to damage are selected when deforestation, the scientists conclude. (fr)

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