Proforestation Mitigates Climate Change and Serves the Greatest Good

  • Authors :William R. Moomaw1*, Susan A. Masino2,3 and Edward K. Faison4
  • 1Emeritus Professor, The Fletcher School and Co-director Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University, Medford, MA, United States
  • 2Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, Trinity College, Hartford, CT, United States
  • 3Charles Bullard Fellow in Forest Research, Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA, United States
  • 4Senior Ecologist, Highstead Foundation, Redding, CT, United States

Climate change and loss of biodiversity are widely recognized as the foremost environmental challenges of our time. Forests annually sequester large quantities of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), and store carbon above and below ground for long periods of time. Intact forests—largely free from human intervention except primarily for trails and hazard removals—are the most carbon-dense and biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems, with additional benefits to society and the economy. Internationally, focus has been on preventing loss of tropical forests, yet U.S. temperate and boreal forests remove sufficient atmospheric CO2 to reduce national annual net emissions by 11%. U.S. forests have the potential for much more rapid atmospheric CO2 removal rates and biological carbon sequestration by intact and/or older forests. The recent 1.5 Degree Warming Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identifies reforestation and afforestation as important strategies to increase negative emissions, but they face significant challenges: afforestation requires an enormous amount of additional land, and neither strategy can remove sufficient carbon by growing young trees during the critical next decade(s). In contrast, growing existing forests intact to their ecological potential—termed proforestation—is a more effective, immediate, and low-cost approach that could be mobilized across suitable forests of all types. Proforestation serves the greatest public good by maximizing co-benefits such as nature-based biological carbon sequestration and unparalleled ecosystem services such as biodiversity enhancement, water and air quality, flood and erosion control, public health benefits, low impact recreation, and scenic beauty.

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‘Radical’ tree trimming: Critics say PG&E’s rush to stop fires may hurt California forests

Conservative state agriculture ministers demand 800 million euros to save German forests

 

Author Julian Wettengel

Germany needs a “national master plan” to save its forests as carbon sinks and the federal government should provide 800 million euros over the coming four years to states, the agriculture ministers of Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony said in a statement. “Sustainable, active forest management is indispensable for climate protection in Germany,” they wrote after the meeting of state agriculture ministers from the conservative CDU/CSU alliance. They add that the repair of forest damage, reforestation and the adaptation of forests to the consequences of climate change are tasks for society as a whole.

Ahead of the meeting, federal agriculture minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) said dying forests mean that Germany is losing its “most important climate action ally”. Germany’s forests have recently shifted into the focus of German climate policy efforts, as prolonged droughts have begun to take a toll on the country’s biggest ecosystems. Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised funds from Germany’s climate and energy fund for reforestation.

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Why we should bury the power lines

Author
Congratulations: If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you still have electricity. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of Americans hit by winter weather in the South this week couldn’t join you. And ice and storms making their way north threaten loss of power stretching to Vermont.
Why do Americans tolerate such outages?
They are not inevitable. The German power grid has outages at an average rate of 21 minutes per year.
The winds may howl. The trees may fall. But in Germany, the lights stay on.
There’s no Teutonic engineering magic to this impressive record. It’s achieved by a very simple decision: Germany buries almost all of its low-voltage and medium-voltage power lines, the lines that serve individual homes and apartments. Americans could do the same. They have chosen not to.
Electric users ask: Why not put power lines underground?

How trees can save us

Author Alissa Walker

Dallas’s hottest summer days, Matt Grubisich would dispatch his colleagues at the Texas Trees Foundation to take manual air temperature readings across the city. “You think the number to go by is the weather station out at the airport,” he says, pointing to Dallas’s Love Field, five miles northwest of the city center. “But then we’d go to a parking lot downtown where it was 6 degrees warmer.”

As the director of operations and urban forestry for the Texas Trees Foundation, Grubisich was trying to demonstrate that Dallas needed to make major design changes to fortify itself against epic heat waves. “It’s easy to explain to people why they park under a tree when they drive to the grocery store,” he says. Getting local leaders and the population at large to take action to bring more trees to the city was a tougher sell.

Thanks to the city’s 2015 effort to map its urban forest, Grubisich and his team already knew that the city’s trees were not evenly distributed. Almost half of Dallas’s trees were located within the Great Trinity Forest, a 6,000-acre nature preserve. That didn’t leave a lot of trees for the rest of the city, where some neighborhoods only had tree canopy over 10 percent of their communities.

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