Old-Growth Forests May Continue Removing Carbon

Indonesia rainforestA new study finds old-growth forest store and continue to remove far more carbon than previously thought [more] making their preservation (strict protection with no industrial management) a higher priority in carbon trading, tackling global warming and forest conservation. The conventional scientific wisdom has long been that while old-growth forests (older than 100 years old) and primary forests (never been logged or otherwise significantly disturbed) store much carbon and are important carbon sinks [search], that they no longer remove much new carbon, so essentially their removal and release of carbon are in balance.
A new study questions this assumption with great importance for forest conservation and climate change policy adequate to ensure global ecological sustainability for the foreseeable future. The new study found that a 400-year-old forest in southern China is soaking up carbon from the atmosphere considerably faster than expected, most of which is being stored for the long term in the top levels of the soil. The results, which are still preliminary in that they have not been repeated worldwide, nonetheless show the dynamism of carbon in ancient forests, and our continued lack of knowledge regarding basic planetary ecological processes of great importance to our survival and well-being.

This finding, that ancient forests may continue to remove substantial carbon, along with recent studies showing selective logging of ancient forests releases extremely large amounts of carbon and forever damages carbon removal mechanisms, sheds grave doubts upon forest conservation strategies dependent upon “certification” of the environmental sensitivity of logging including ancient forests.
One of the great tasks of our, and all, time is protecting and aiding the expansion of all remaining old-growth forests and primary forests which for sake of simplicity I often refer to as “ancient forests”. These evolutionary shrines hold untold wisdom deep in their genes, high above us in their vibrant canopies, and deep within the darkness of their roots and soils. There loss AND diminishment must stop if there is to be any chance to sustain the planet and human society. EcoInternet will soon launch a long-term campaign targeting the Forest Stewardship Council and their apologists that refuse to support efforts to end ancient forest logging.
Continuing to diminish through industrial “selective” logging the world’s 20% of ancient forests which have not already been lost will be a death-knell for the Earth and humanity. Solving climate change and water scarcity is intimately entwined with establishing permanent protection (with compensation for those affected) for all remaining ancient old-growth and primary forests. Attacking the troika of ancient forest loss and diminishment, climate change including dramatically reducing emissions, and protecting water systems and provision of potable water as a human right will decide whether humans have more time as a species and how they spend it.

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4 Responses

  1. chris says:

    While old growth forests grab the attention and headlines, there is much to be said for engaging people to plant and nurture new trees as well.
    There is a link for the United Nations Plant for the Planet Billion tree campaign at Co2action.com

  2. Dani says:

    I believe that Ingmar Lee recently made the main point (by explaining the necessity of preserving the complex old-growth soil micro-systems).
    What's needed now is a comprehensive search of the existing scientific journal databases for confirmatory/disconfirmatory research results. Then, if the Chinese study's results are supported, a strong effort should be made to force those responsible (for setting up the Carbon credit system) to include old-growth forest presevation in their new GHG reduction planning schemes.
    Kudo's to Dr. Glen Barry and co-workers at the EcologicalInternet.org.
    dani rubin

  3. Nigel Miles says:

    Well described Glen…I have been attempting to promote this view in as many
    outlets of academia in the UK for years and most of the time falling on deaf
    ears….Now it seems that truth will out…
    Best wishes….
    Nigel Miles

  4. Mohinder Pal says:

    From the study in respect of Old Forests in China, What is the ratio of Storage of Carbon as compared to young Forests, on an annual basis?

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