An international team led by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) has studied which types of forest, in terms of biodiversity, are the most effective in storing carbon.
An international team led by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) has studied which types of forest, in terms of biodiversity, are the most effective in storing carbon. Inventory data from natural forests on five continents show that species diversity is optimal for equatorial and tropical rainforests, and that, conversely, in forests located in cold or dry regions, it is the abundance of trees and not their diversity that favours the recapture of CO2. The results of the study, published in Nature Communications, are valuable in defining natural strategies to combat climate change.
Global warming is stressing forests through higher mean annual temperatures, longer-lasting droughts and more frequent and extreme weather events. At the same time, forests – and the wood they produce – can trap and store carbon dioxide (CO2), they therefore play a crucial role in mitigating climate change. Trees and forests remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to carbon during photosynthesis, which they then store in the form of wood and vegetation, a process referred to as «carbon sequestration». However, not all forests have the same capacity to capture and store carbon.
In recent decades, researchers have suggested that species diversity allows for denser stacking and niche compartmentalisation that promotes the abundance of trees within a forest and that this abundance increases the forest’s carbon storage capacity. But another hypothesis suggests that it is not diversity that allows tree abundance but the availability of energy substrate. Areas with higher energy content allows more trees to thrive per unit area and thus increase carbon recapture. While these two hypotheses question the scientific community on the relationship between diversity and abundance, knowing the answer could pragmatically guide the fight against CO2 emissions.
Read more at Université de Genève
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