Vast Acres Of The Tropical Rainforest Are Being Brought Back To Life

For decades, thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest across the world have been destroyed by mankind, contributing greatly to global climate change. But now efforts are being made to restore the rainforests, according to a new report from Mongabay, which cites a paper in the journal Science Advances:

“The paper, published July 3 in the journal Science Advances, estimates there are more than a million square kilometers (386,000 square miles) of lost tropical rainforest across the Americas, Africa and Southeast Asia with high potential for restoration.

“’Restoring tropical forests is fundamental to the planet’s health, now and for generations to come,’ said lead author Pedro Brancalion, from the University of São Paulo. ‘For the first time, our study helps governments, investors and others seeking to restore global tropical moist forests to determine precise locations where restoring forests is most viable, enduring and beneficial. Restoring forests is a must do — and it’s doable.'”

And the need for such a project is obvious when you consider how much of the old-growth rainforests have disappeared, study co-author Robin Chazdon, from the University of Connecticut remarked:

“We were surprised at the large area of hotspots found across global rainforests, a total of 101 million hectares. This area is larger than the combined area of Sweden and Spain. And these areas are found in all continents and across dozens of countries.”

Using high-resolution satellite imagery, researchers focused on four benefits of forests: Biodiversity, climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and water security. They then scored what areas were most likely to be good candidates for reforestation. The top six are all located in Africa, specifically in the nations of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Togo, South Sudan, and Madagascar.

Another promising factor in the effort to bring back the forests is that 73 percent of them are in countries that have already committed themselves to restoring their rainforests by becoming signatories to the Bonn Challenge, an initiative launched in 2011 that calls for 1.5 million square kilometers (579,000 square miles) of the world’s deforested and degraded land to be restored by 2020, and 3.5 million square kilometers (1.35 million square miles) by 2030.

But the news is not all positive when it comes to the rainforests, especially in Brazil:

“Last year, deforestation in Earth’s biggest rainforest, the Brazilian Amazon, reached the highest level in a decade, spanning an area 134 times the size of Manhattan’s land mass.

“Things are only expected to get worse under the country’s new president, President Jair Bolsonaro. Since taking office at the start of 2019, the Bolsonaro administration has dismantled environmental protections and institutions by firing or not replacing top environment officials, loosening controls on economic exploitation of the Amazon, and halting the demarcation of indigenous lands.

“Environmentalists have expressed concern that Bolsonaro’s policies will clear the path for unchecked deforestation, with the rising deforestation rate primed to mark 2019 as one of the worst years for forest loss in recent memory.”

Brancalion, however, remains optimistic, but says action must be taken without any further delay:

“With the tools we have developed, countries, companies and other actors who have pledged to restore forests have the precise information they need to roll up their sleeves and dive into the difficult work of bringing our forests back.

“There are no shortcuts when it comes to forest restoration, but there is low-hanging fruit that we need to seize now, before it’s too late.”

Featured Image Via NASA/JPL

 

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Andrew Bradford
 

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