RELEASE: Ancient Forests Absorb 20% of Human’s Carbon, Logging and Other Industrial Destruction of Old Forests Must Stop Now

The myth that primary and old growth forests should be “sustainably” managed is dealt a mortal deathblow. Members and funders of RAN, FSC and others greenwashing ancient forest logging called upon to withdraw support in protest
By Earth's Newsdesk, a project of EcoInternet
CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry, glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org
Tropical rainforests store and continue to remove massive amounts of carbon(Seattle, WA) — EcoInternet welcomes the emerging science published today in “Nature” indicating tropical trees in undisturbed forest are absorbing [ark] nearly a fifth of the CO2 released by burning fossil fuels[1]. This is in addition to the long-term carbon sequestered within old trees' wood and soils. This is the most recent of several major scientific studies indicating the need to fully protect all remaining primary and old growth forests as a keystone response to global climate, biodiversity and water crises.
“This is huge — not only do ancient rainforests reliably store massive amounts of carbon, as we have known for sometime, but they continue to remove enormous amounts of carbon every day they remain standing and are non-degraded. The study partially solves the mystery of where human carbon pollution has been going, and in so doing supports the need for avoided deforestation payments,” said Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet's President.
It was found that remaining tropical forests remove a massive 4.8 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere each year. This includes a previously unknown carbon sink in Africa, which mops up 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 a year. Over the past 40 years, each hectare of intact African forest was found to have annually trapped an extra 0.6 tonnes of carbon. This builds upon last year's studies that found old-growth forests are “carbon sinks” and continually absorb carbon dioxide, and that their first time logging releases 40 percent of their carbon[2].


“We are receiving a free subsidy from nature,” says Dr. Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds, and the lead author of the paper. “Tropical forest trees are absorbing about 18% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere each year from burning fossil fuels, substantially buffering the rate of climate change.”
Dr. Lee White, co-author on the study, said “to get an idea of the value of the sink, the removal of nearly 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by intact tropical forests, based on realistic prices for a tonne of carbon, should be valued at around

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18 Responses

  1. I posted the following comment on RAN's blog comments to a story regarding Amazon forest destruction. Much like the companies against which they campaign, RAN has been censoring discussions on their web site. What are the chances it will appear at
    http://understory.ran.org/2009/01/27/a-message-from-the-heart-of-the-amazon/comment-page-1/#comment-301016
    ******************
    Why is RAN so inconsistent? End coal but not ancient forest logging? New science: not only could 20% of emissions be saved by ending deforestation and diminishment, but these standing forests would absorb 20% of fossil fuel emissions. That is over a 35% swing in carbon emissions by ending primary and old growth forest logging in the Amazon and elsewhere. Your support for FSC certification of primary and oldgrowth forest logging greenwashes all the rest of ancient forest destruction. Stop it.
    RELEASE: Ancient Forests Absorb 20% of Human's Carbon, Logging and Other Industrial Destruction of Old Forests Must Stop Now
    The myth that primary and old growth forests should be “sustainably” managed is dealt a mortal deathblow. Members and funders of RAN, FSC and others greenwashing ancient forest logging called upon to withdraw support in protest
    http://www.rainforestportal.org/issues/2009/02/release_ancient_forests_absorb.asp

  2. alan hill says:

    Getting support for logging to stop is going to be a slow process. We may argue the science, but at the end of the day change will probably come about by having it thrust upon the decision makers. So lets ramp up the noise factor on old growth forest and the need too retain them. We are basically just another species that may become extinct.

  3. Aubrey says:

    Dera Glen
    Really good article.
    Usually scientists working for agencies, governments or industries
    have no compunction aginst publishing lies and falsities.
    regards
    aubrey

  4. Wayne Johnson says:

    Great job publicizing this far and wide. Wayne Johnson Ph.D.
    –seiku

  5. Nigel says:

    Good article Glen,
    Although I have actually been requested to speak about the paradigm
    opportunity REDD has for the planet, at the University of Oxford on
    31/07/09-01/08/09, there is contention about the amount of funding to be
    made available per stored metric tonne of carbon per hectare.
    The writers below estimate that an amount

  6. Greer Hart says:

    Dear Dr Barry – thanks for updates – we have an insance bunch running our world and as I have probably mentioned to you, my friends and I have 4 wee nature reserves here in Scotland paid for by recycling plastic and bottles and running discos 30 years ago. We have a saying in Scotland – “Every meikle maks a muckle” or every little thing adds up to a big thing. We would go around picking up coins, raiding bins for aluminium cans and glass bottles. If we could awaken the mass of the people to give just a small amount each month, then we could buy the jungles and other sensitive areas and use them for the indigenous people and intelligent economic benefit.
    At present, the world is under dreadful threat from political and religious forces instead of our working together to save our planet.
    Keep me informed. Greer Hart, President of the wee Scoittish Tree Trust.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am resigning my membership from RAN immediately. For the past half dozen years they have done little on tropical rainforests anyway, so the name is a misnomer.

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    Thanks, Glen, but please get out of the habit of preceding “forests” with “tropical”- something the North American timber industry has trained everybody to do.
    I think it's just an oversight on your part, since you've been so good about speaking out on the boreal and NW forests-
    Mike Roddy

  9. Dr. Glen Barry says:

    A copy of the communication sent to RAN's executive direction notifying them of our recommencing of our campaign agains their support for FSC and ancient forest logging.
    ******************
    Dear Mr. Brune,
    I am writing to further express continued concern regarding RAN's support for the first time industrial logging of primary and old growth forests. My organization and I, along with a network of tens of thousands of forest conservationists around the world, have consistently been expressing concern for nearly two years to RAN regarding your support for ancient forest logging, certified as acceptable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Our legitimate concerns went unanswered for over a year, leading us to make a token protest to Revel supporters. At that point commitments were made by RAN to EcoInternet to postpone the campaign. We then scuppered plans to protest at your Revel event in good faith.
    In my recent brief conversation with Ms. Krill, it appears no progress has been made to resolve this matter in over three months. Despite being a member of FSC, you have apparently received no clarification regarding the percentage of FSC certified timbers that are derived from ancient forests. Nor have you resigned from FSC. This delay is unacceptable, as the world is poised upon the precipice of abrupt and runaway climate change, and all available ecological science indicates the urgent necessity of ending old growth destruction as key to stabilizing the situation. Just yesterday we found out the shocking fact that ancient rainforests not only hold a large amount of carbon, much of which is released when logged for the first time, but are continuing to remove 20% of the carbon emitted from fossil fuels annually.
    With this email, you are hereby notified that EcoInternet's Earth Action Network is now calling for RAN”s members and funders to withdraw their support. We intend to persist with this campaign until you either get FSC to stop certifying the first time industrial logging of ancient forests, or RAN resigns in protest from the organization. We are certain that the RAN brand's reputation for innovative, market based campaigns continues to be substantially damaged as the extent to which you and your staff are unable to engage in spirited debate regarding a matter of critical global ecological importance becomes known. Your organization has not even taken us seriously enough to offer a full spirited defense of FSC. Instead, you have chosen to denigrate myself, my organization and our motives.
    Climate and forest science is rapidly changing — there have been immense advances in just the last few years, and particularly since FSC was hailed as a solution to global deforestation a decade ago. I am being advised by a team of the best tropical ecologists in the world. We are going to win this debate. Efforts to hold a substantive discussion of the issue of FSC old growth and primary forest logging with your staff have proven impossible as clearly the are lacking in basic knowledge of ecological science regarding tropical rainforest sustainability. This goes for Ms. Krill as well as your recent hire of Mr. Cortesi.
    At this point, I have no choice but to limit my negotiations on this matter with you, the head of the organization, as they are not skilled enough to hold a discussion on the matter. I expect our campaign will continue for as long or as short as it takes RAN to become consistent in their message: that we need to end the use of coal and ancient forest logging, certified or otherwise, to protect our precious Earth. Good day sir.
    Regards,
    Dr. Glen Barry

  10. Anonymous says:

    Damn it is refreshing to see a campaign working for what is necessary rather than sells well. Greenpeace sold out the whales and forests long ago, to like RAN, spend their time looking cool and smoking dope.

  11. Paul H says:

    "Human rights cannot interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises," Clinton said in talks with China's foreign minister.
    Tell that to the people that have no rights Clinton. They don't care if a bunch of rich people are loosing money. And if Global Warming is going to be in front of any of these other issues we have lost our way to the biggest scam in history.

  12. Norris Boothe says:

    You folks are only looking at half of the equation, and that is why you are not convincing anyone. Carbon sequestered in building products is kept out of the atmosphere for quite a long time (average about 100 years). And young forests also absorb carbon dioxide, so there is an additive function that you seem to ignore.

  13. Ingmar says:

    Hi, This position statement was worked out during a three day retreat near Gottingen Germany in December. The position articulated by AKU is now a required foundational statement for any organization which purports to make efforts to protect forests. This is what the worlds forests now require of forest-protection oriented environmental organizations so that the people who are interested in supporting them can know clearly, that said organization will not be engaged in any sort of activity which compromises in any way, for any reasons, on their protection. Cheers, Ingmar
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ArbeitsKreis n

  14. Tommy says:

    I find it very interesting that scientists have found a compelling argument in favor of sparing our rainforests after all the years of finding reasons to tear it down. It just goes to show you that with every new day of development in the fields, we're one step closer to finding out the damage that has been done in the past. I just hope that we find the reasons and the cures before we lose these beautiful assets forever. It's time to slow down, by any means, and give this situation another well deserved look before taking immediate action.

  15. I encourage you all to actually read the paper (I can send it to you if you email me). In two years we have gone from the long held notion that primary forests were carbon neutral. That is, that their role in relation to carbon was largely limited to storing large amounts of carbon, but did not remove much if any new carbon. So might as well clear them and plant new plantations of young growing trees to that do (so says industry)!
    Last year a major paper (referred to in release) showed that in fact old forests continued to act as a sink for new carbon. A revolutionary finding that overturned decades of thought. And this new Science paper now quantifies this and illustrates that 20% of industrial emissions are ending up in old forests. This partially solves a long held climate mystery of where much of human carbon has been going. Too bad about the satellite that blew up that was going to try to find the rest.
    So by protecting old forests, you keep the carbon that would be released out of the atmosphere (about 20% of emissions as we all know) AND you remove 20% of the remaining 80% from fossil fuels. So that is a net swing of some 35% of anthropocentric carbon being kept or removed from the atmosphere by protecting and restoring old forests. This would appear to be second only to ending use of coal as a one shot action to address climate change.
    THIS IS A HUGE FINDING. It validates our long held contention that logging and other industrial development of primary and old growth forests must end as a keystone response to climate change (to say nothing of biodiversity and water).
    Regards,
    Dr. Glen Barry

  16. rob says:

    Why sacrafice all forestry jobs so the big corperations can continue poluting the earth

  17. Dr. Glen Barry says:

    Dear Mr. Brune,
    I was wondering whether RAN had any comment on this week's study in the journal Science regarding the huge volumes of outgassing from the Amazon Basin during the 2005 drought? This supplements earlier science I have forwarded (attached again) that indicates: 1) that rainforests are, in addition to storing carbon, removing 20% of fossil fuel emissions, 2) and the new study clarifies that due to fragmentation, climate changes and droughts; this carbon sequestration is gravely threatened.
    It is becoming abundantly clear that ending industrial diminishment, including FSC logging, of primary forests is (along with ending coal use) a keystone response to climate change. The best way to keep ancient forests holding and storing new carbon is to stop their industrial diminishment and fragmentation, and restore their extent and connectedness. Your support of FSC's greenwashing actively impedes this policy. Forests logged by FSC lose at least 40% of their carbon immediately, are never likely to recover their carbon holding potential, and the fragmentation opens up the canopy, leading to dryness and fire.
    My 20 years of academic training on the matter has lead me to conclude we need to maintain and restore old forests to maintain a habitable Earth. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?
    My further questions to you:
    1.) Does RAN have a methodology in place to assess emerging rainforest and climate science, and adjust your campaigns accordingly? At what point will this science lead you to question your assumption that logging hundreds of year old trees in primary forests has climate, rainforest and indigenous benefits? Does RAN have any ecologically credentialed staff?
    2.) When will RAN stop supporting first time industrial logging of primary forests by FSC, which we estimate threatens destruction of the carbon holding potential for hundreds of millions of hectares of ancient forests? Do you have mechanisms in place to change campaigns and admit when you have been wrong?
    3.) Why is RAN no longer listed as a supporter of the Great Bear Solutions project in BC, Canada? Have you publicly repudiated this selling out of the world's largest intact temperate rainforest for vague promises of “ecosystem management” (industrial logging) that do not even rise to the level of certification (a fact you did not know until I told you)?
    Attached are two articles — “Drought Sensitivity of the Amazon Rainforest” — published in last week's Science, and the earlier findings it builds upon in Geophysical Research Letters, entitled “Impact of terrestrial biosphere carbon exchanges on the anomalous CO2 increase in 2002-;2003.” Has the preponderance of ecological scientific evidence yet reached the point where, as your new rainforest campaigner stated, it is no longer a “bit of a stretch and certainly premature to link… the nature paper findings with RAN and the FSC.” What will it take short of it being too late to have rainforests to mitigate climate hcange for RAN to commit to ending ancient forest logging in rhetoric and practice by pulling out of FSC?
    Ecological science is making it abundantly clear that primary forest logging and other industrial development must end if we are to maintain an operable atmosphere, to say nothing of global biodiversity and water stocks. RAN is impeding public policy that responds to this science. As such, the protest last week of your speaking in New York is just the beginning of protest to come. We have been abundantly patient as you have dismissed and shunted our concerns off upon junior staff. This is a final warning that we expect urgent action upon this matter, or we will be shortly escalating our cordial, ecological science based campaign against your group.
    With grave concern,
    Dr. Glen Barry

  18. Tommy says:

    I live in Michigan, in the USA. The middle of our state thrived on the logging industry for fifty or sixty years (yes, there was some industry in this state before the autos-hopefully there will be some after). There is a story that the loggers cut away the state's old growth forests just as fast as they could, given the machinery of the day. Then, they stopped. Apparently there were a few trees left, and the industry decided to let them stand. The last few trees. How nice. We have no data on the amount of carbon that these trees locked up, but given the relatively new growth, we are clearly in the negative.

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