Planet Savers: What 3.3% of our Forests are Doing to Save Earth

We have spoken about the importance of ending deforestation here before. But what exactly are our forests currently doing for the planet to fight the climate crisis? Turns out… a whole lot.

On our current path, humanity is headed towards another mass extinction. So, "what have trees got to do with all of this," I hear you ask? They are one of many superheroes in this narrative!

3.3% of land on this planet alone holds some of the most vital factors in fighting the climate crisis. The forests, trees, and peats, on this 3.3% of land take on the workload of storing a majority of global carbon emissions, holding HALF of what is called irrecoverable carbon (highly concentrated carbon). What a feat. However, they can't do this alone.

This is where we come in. These carbon-rich forests and peatlands won't recover by 2050 if we don't significantly reduce the effects of human contributions to climate change. It's not just deforestation that causes this to happen. Wildfires have ravaged much of this land over the course of this year too. These areas must become some of the most protected places on the planet. With our primary carbon sinks now in danger, it's only a matter of time until we will be producing more carbon than what our current forests and peats can store.

So what are some of these primary planet savers on Earth and what can we do to ensure they keep on battling climate change? Let's take a look:

  1. The Amazon

    Besides having extensive biodiversity (one of the most diverse), the water cycle from the Amazon itself is an important factor in maintaining both the regional and global climate. The forest was considered to be a carbon sink, absorbing up to billions of tonnes of CO2 each year. However now, the forests are releasing more carbon dioxide than they can hold onto due to the rate of destruction.

    Land clearing for beef and soy production has meant that large fires are set, causing even further emissions. Fewer trees means the water cycle is disrupted, leading to changes in the mechanism and incidentally creating warmer temperatures and less rain. Continuing with deforestation and land clearing means we are speeding up the process of climate change.

  2. Congo Basin

    Either side of the Congo river contains a third of the world's tropical peats spanning across an area larger than England. Scientists have discovered that these peats in the bogs of the Congo are older and richer than originally thought and the reason this is good news is that peats are fantastic at storing large amounts of carbon.

    These same scientists learnt that the peats have been able to store up to 30.6 billion tonnes of carbon over the course of 10, 000 years (that is equivalent to 3 years worth of carbon emissions). This number means that the peats are now one of the world's most important carbon sinks. There is still a great amount of research being conducted into these peats to fully understand how we can utilize them and to see what needs to be done to continue protecting them. However, it is believed that due to the sheer remoteness of the peats that they won't be directly accessible meaning less chance of the bogs being destroyed.

  3. Australian Eucalyptus Forests

    Many of Australia's flora can grow well in hotter climates which means that as the climate inevitably warms, Australian trees and plants can continue to thrive especially since different varieties of eucalyptus grow in various climate types. However, larger trees will struggle over smaller ones as they need more resources to grow and are affected by heat stress.

    Not only are the Australian eucalyptus important for the country's rich biodiversity, they also act as carbon stores, just like the Amazon rainforests.

    They provide habitats to some fairly unique fauna too! While eucalypts carbon-storing abilities are incredibly useful, they are also considered to be crucial to maintaining habitats for a variety of wildlife as well as mushrooms and other smaller plants.

So you may be wondering what can be done to help keep these planet savers alive. Consider these:

  • Volunteer time at any conservationist efforts being conducted to maintain/revive any of these locations.
  • Get involved in local conservationist activities. It doesn't have to be at the Amazon, but it could even be local national parks, and reserves.
  • Donate money and resources to conservationist efforts. This could also be done to help animals that have been displaced due to habitat destruction.
  • Write to your local MPs to tell them to get more involved with local conservation. Urge them to go to a federal level and pass bills to protect ecologically important locations

We can also talk to friends and family about these issues to continue raising awareness. The more people are rallied to action, the closer we can get to protecting our vital biomes!

Read this next: What's Permaculture Living And How Can We Start Doing It? Our Chat With Milkwood's Kirsten Bradley

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