Joel Callen

News

Wed, 8 Apr, 2015

Despite deforestation, Earth has become greener

Despite deforestation, Earth has become greener

A study led by a University of New South Wales scientist has found that despite thousands of hectares of rainforest being cleared each year, the planet has actually become greener in the past decade. With deforestation in the Amazon continuing in order to make way for farming land, one may expect the level of trees to have shrunk significantly, but the opposite is true.

What’s even more surprising is that the increase in trees has led to a corresponding rise in the level of carbon stored by trees. As of now, the world’s trees store almost four billion more tonnes of carbon than they did in 2003.

So what’s the cause of this renewed greenery? There are two projects we can thank – China has been planting trees for several decades now, and forest regrowth on abandoned former Soviet farms. Higher rainfalls have also caused more lush savannahs. While the results of these projects is encouraging, the study, published this week in Nature Climate Change, points out that the level of carbon released into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and cement production over the same period has increased.

The study’s lead author, Yi Liu, recommends a reduction in burning of fossil fuels to slow the rate of carbon being produced.

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