Brazil’s Secondary Forests and Threatened Carbon Uptake

Apart from fires and other such disastrous destruction, forests in Brazil are also cleared deliberately to allow for a rotational type of agriculture practice. In almost all these scenarios, such land is eventually left alone to allow for regrowth of the forests, what can be termed as ‘secondary forests’.

A large area is currently housing secondary forests within Brazil. Studies show that secondary forests are more helpful in carbon sequestering as compared to older, primary forests. According to one article published in the Scientific Data journal, “the estimated uptake by secondary forests in Brazil offsets 12% of carbon emissions from deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon alone.” It also further highlights that while the regrowth occurs naturally, it may be hindered by human interference.

Spatial patterns of secondary forest regrowth
Spatial patterns of secondary forest regrowth. Image Credit: University of Bristol

Adding more to this data is a new study published in the Nature Communications journal, which suggests that carbon uptake by secondary forests is being hindered by the climate and human activities. The study, which used satellite images and data to observe the regrowth of forests, their speed, age, and carbon uptake, found that even when naturally regrowing upon abandonment, these forests are developing at different speeds. The researchers link fire-scorched land with the slower growth of trees.

Viola Heinrich, lead author of this study, said, “Our results show the strong effects of key climate and human factors on regrowth, stressing the need to safeguard and expand secondary forest areas if they are to have any significant role in the fight against climate change.”

The team further notes that as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, Brazil had vowed to reforest a space of 12 million hectares. However, since its pledge amendment in 2020, there is no mention of such reforestation or even elimination of illegal deforestation.

Co-author Dr Luiz Aragão, National Institute of Space Research in Brazil, added “Across the tropics several areas could be used to regrow forests to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Brazil is likely to be the tropical country with the largest potential for this kind of Nature-based solution, which can generate income to landowners, reestablish ecosystem services and place the country again as a global leader in the fight against climate change.”

The findings of studies such as this may prove helpful in charting the course for the successful growth of secondary forests, optimizing carbon uptake and reforestation efforts in Brazil and other areas.

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Terra Love View All →

I am a simple writer who wishes to use her skill to create more awareness about the planet that offers us life.

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