From the Amazon rainforest to the boreal forests of the northern hemisphere, forests play a crucial role in absorbing planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) as the world faces a race against time to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
Forests are the largest carbon sinks on land, removing approximately 7.6 billion metric tonnes of CO2 each year from the atmosphere, which is around one-and-a-half times the average annual emissions of the United States.
Governments are taking action to protect these natural stores of CO2, with more than 140 countries pledging at last year’s UN COP26 talks to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030, although a recent analysis found they are not on track.
The Forest Declaration Assessment found that deforestation worldwide slowed by 6.3 per cent in 2021 compared to the 10 per cent annual reduction needed.
But protecting forests doesn’t just protect their crucial carbon-absorbing abilities.
Forests also are vital for the climate and nature in myriad other ways, providing benefits that scientists are increasingly able to quantify.
So what else can forests do for the planet and its people?
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