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Carbon emission levels from deforestation challenged

May 14, 2012

Science a Go Go

 

When trees are felled to create solid wood products – such as lumber for housing – the wood retains most of its locked-up carbon, say scientists who suggest that previous climate models for carbon emissions from deforestation need revision. The new study, from the University of California, Davis, provides a deeper understanding of the complex global impacts of deforestation on greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the research found that the volume of greenhouse gas released when a forest is cleared depends on how the trees will be used and in which part of the world the trees are grown. “We found that 30 years after a forest clearing, between 0 percent and 62 percent of carbon from that forest might remain in storage,” said the study’s lead author J. Mason Earles. “Previous models generally assumed that it was all released immediately.”

 

Analyzing how 169 countries use harvested forests, the researchers learned that forests found in North America and Europe are cleared primarily for use in solid wood products, while the tropical forests of the Southern hemisphere are more often cleared for use in energy and paper production.

 

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Keywords: carbon, deforestation, Europe, logging, North America, selective logging, Southern

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