Forests and Ecosystem Carbon
Forest protection is essential to avoid dangerous climate change
Forests absorb and store carbon
Much of the land surface of the planet is clothed in vegetation and soils which store vast amounts of carbon. This carbon is captured by green plants as CO2 during photosynthesis and is used to form the biomass of plants and animals. Some is transferred into soil or back to the atmosphere as these organisms die.
Destroying forests releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
Changes in the way land is used, such as the destruction of temperate and tropical forests to make way for agriculture, releases much of the carbon contained in vegetation and soils. CO2 then enters the atmosphere where it traps heat energy, contributing to global warming.
Protect and restore forests to avoid dangerous climate change
Collectively, the destruction and degradation of forests, and the draining of associated peatlands, is responsible for some 18% of global GHG emissions. This is more than emissions from the entire global transport sector.
Combining climate protection and wildlife conservation
Forest loss in the tropics is the leading threat to biodiversity
Tropical forests support a greater number of species than any other habitat on Earth. The relentless destruction of tropical forests is the leading cause of biodiversity loss.
Halting forest destruction will reduce biodiversity loss and avert dangerous climate change
By protecting, rehabilitating and expanding carefully chosen forest areas, it is possible to protect the carbon still bound up in forest trees and soils, absorb more carbon from the atmosphere by encouraging forest re-growth, and protect and bolster the populations of species that would otherwise face global extinctions.
The role of WLT biodiversity conservation projects
The portfolio of projects delivered by the WLT influence local land use transitions in several ways.
- The purchase of forests protects them from conversion.
- Validated REDD+ and Carbon Balanced projects leverage the value of stored carbon to achieve forest protection.
- The expansion of fragmented forests through assisted natural forest regeneration and tree planting enables the ‘rebound’ of forests across partially converted ‘mosaic’ landscapes.