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Category: Forests

Is REDD the new green?

Written By: Dave Rochlin | 2 comments | Join the Discussion

There are two sides to fighting global warming - emitting less greenhouse gasses, and preserving the earth’s ability to absorb them. Sometimes, we're lucky enough to find projects that do both. A new set of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing countries (REDD) projects do just that.

Global forests are under intense pressure from agriculture, logging, and other land use. In both South America and Asia, thousands of fires can be seen from space during the ‘burning season’, as land is cleared for planting soy, making palm oil, and raising cattle.

We need these forests, to absorb at least some of the gasses produced by our modernized energy-intensive world, and to provide habitat for our remaining diversity of wildlife. When cleared, they instead release carbon that has been stored in the branches and forest floor for hundreds of years. It's like getting double dose of global warming, with a side of species extinction.

Precious old-growth forests are easy to preserve and almost impossible to recreate. According to the World Bank, dense tropical forest is cleared to create pastures worth as little as $300 a hectare ($122 per acre), while releasing large amounts of CO2. These forests may be worth five times more if left standing, to store carbon, than if cleared and burned. If developing countries could extract this value, they could also stimulate more productive, sustainable agriculture in degraded areas while preserving the environmental services of forests.

Carbon credits assign a dollar value to our planet's precious areas, which is especially crucial where residents are struggling to feed themselves and their families. Carbon neutrality means generating less where you can, and using offsets to support real, verifiable projects that help take care of the rest. Forest preservation is one of the truly impactful, meaningful ways to do that.

UN scientists have observed that the absorptive power of oceans, forests, and other “sinks” for carbon dioxide, which typically suck in more than half of the gas emitted each year, has not kept pace with the rising emissions. Right now, these sinks are taking in only 54 percent of the emissions, which is like one breath in and two breaths out. Let’s put things back into balance, today.

Discuss This

  1. Danny posted on 01.22.09

    Related story on disappearing forests in North America here: because of climate change here: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/01/deadtrees.html

  2. The Big Guy Tri posted on 01.15.09

    Burning down old growth rainforest to earn $122? That hurts. I bet most people spend that much on their gardens every month. Thanks for taking this on

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Discuss This

  1. Danny posted on 01.22.09

    Related story on disappearing forests in North America here: because of climate change here: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/01/deadtrees.html

  2. The Big Guy Tri posted on 01.15.09

    Burning down old growth rainforest to earn $122? That hurts. I bet most people spend that much on their gardens every month. Thanks for taking this on

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