The Earth Day Network

The Earth Day Network says that although, since 2010, it (with our help) has planted over 15 million trees in 31 countries “we” have got to do much more.  It points to a report published in the journal Science on September 28 which shows that deforestation and land degradation are increasing faster than reforestation.  68.9% of overall losses from the net release of carbon in our atmosphere comes from deforestation, and new forest growth has not kept up.  Scientists tested this theory by taking a new approach.  Previously, the carbon from tropical forests was measured by estimates from satellites that analyzed the change between two different time periods as well as the biomass density of forests. This time, scientists mapped out current aboveground carbon rates in order to estimate the data over a 12-year period.  They found that on every continent, deforestation canceled out the effectiveness of the trees in tropical forests.  It isn’t that reforestation is contributing to more carbon in the environment, but that the positive effects of reforestation are exceeded by the impacts of excessive logging and deforestation.

The net loss of tropical forests can be broken down into these major percentages – 59.8% in tropical regions of America, 23.8% in Africa, and 16.3% in Asia.   In fact, the carbon released annually from forest degradation is greater than the emissions released from all vehicles in the United States each year. Emissions from tropical forests need to be reduced so that we can restore forests and their role to store carbon, and help keep global temperatures from rising too high.  Most of the hands-on research for this study was carried out in South America, specifically the rainforests of Brazil. They found that net loss in aboveground carbon decreased during 2004-2012 when the policies on illegal deforestation were stricter. Since protections were reduced in 2013, carbon net loss in Brazil has steadily increased.  Tropical forests do have the power to decrease the large amounts of carbon in the atmosphere, and by minimizing emissions through ending deforestation and degradation, we can move towards a safer and more sustainable future.

Earth Day Network wants us to help them reach its goal of planting 7.8 billion trees — one tree for every person on earth — in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020.  It asks us to support the Canopy Project.

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