Study: Vast swaths of lost tropical forest can still be brought back to life

  • A new study has once again emphasized the importance of restoring degraded tropical forests in the fight against climate change.
  • Using high-resolution satellite imagery, the study identifies more than a million square kilometers (386,000 square miles) of lost tropical rainforest across the Americas, Africa and Southeast Asia as having high potential for restoration.
  • The researchers say there’s no time to waste on reforestation efforts, but caution that the type of reforestation undertaken must be carefully considered.
  • Countries such as China have increased their forest cover through the extensive planting of a single tree species, but studies have shown that monoculture tree plantations are inferior to natural forests when it comes to capturing carbon, hosting wildlife, and providing other ecosystem services.

JAKARTA — The loss of tropical rainforests the world over is a major contributor to the global climate crisis. But that loss isn’t irreversible, according to a new study that has identified deforested areas spanning more than twice the size of California that can be brought back to life.

The paper, published July 3 in the journal Science Advances, estimates there are more than a million square kilometers (386,000 square miles) of lost tropical rainforest across the Americas, Africa and Southeast Asia with high potential for restoration.

“Restoring tropical forests is fundamental to the planet’s health, now and for generations to come,” said lead author Pedro Brancalion, from the University of São Paulo. “For the first time, our study helps governments, investors and others seeking to restore global tropical moist forests to determine precise locations where restoring forests is most viable, enduring and beneficial. Restoring forests is a must do — and it’s doable.”

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