Saturday, December 02, 2006

Old-growth forest store and continue to remove far more carbon than previously thought

December 2, 2006
OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet

A new study finds old-growth forest store and continue to remove
far more carbon than previously thought 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, 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. Ecological Internet 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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