- Celebrities often use compensation to compensate for the gases produced when flying private jets
- But planting trees as part of large-scale programs to “offset” carbon emissions harms nature
Planting trees as part of large-scale programs to “offset” carbon emissions is damaging nature, according to a new Oxford study.
Celebrities and business tycoons such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Elton John, Emma Watson and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have all said they have used offsets to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions caused by activities such as flying on private jets.
However, if offsets involve planting large amounts of a single tree species, it can actually lead to environmental degradation, the authors argue.
It argues that single-species planting is detrimental to biodiversity and puts forests at greater risk of fires, while doing little to absorb greenhouse gases.
Instead, the authors say we should prioritize preserving and restoring intact ecosystems.
Planting trees as part of large-scale programs to “offset” carbon emissions is damaging nature, according to a new Oxford study
Scientists at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute wrote in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution that the focus on carbon offsets at all costs damages other aspects of the ecosystem.
The author of the report, Dr. Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez, said: “Despite the wide range of ecosystem functions and services that tropical ecosystems provide, society has reduced the value of these ecosystems to just one metric – carbon.”
“Current and new policies should not promote ecosystem degradation through tree plantations, even though carbon sequestration is tight.”
Although some projects reforest degraded land, most involve what is known as reforestation – the planting of forests in non-degraded and previously unforested regions such as grasslands.
Tropical ecosystems are characterized by a high level of biodiversity and offer numerous ecosystem services, such as: B. maintaining water quality, soil health and pollination.
In comparison, carbon capture plantations are typically monocultures and dominated by just five tree species: teak, mahogany, cedar, silky oak, and blackweed, which are grown for timber, pulp, or agroforestry.
The result is that these plantations typically support lower levels of biodiversity.
In the Brazilian Cerrado savannah, for example, a 40 percent increase in woody cover reduced plant and ant diversity by about 30 percent.
In fact, tropical grasslands and savannahs are already carbon sinks and, unlike trees, are less vulnerable to disturbances such as drought and fire.
These plantations can also directly damage ecosystems by reducing river flow, depleting groundwater, and acidifying soils.
Dr. Aguirre-Gutiérrez said: “The current trend of carbon-focused tree planting” is leading to the creation of “low carbon gain” monocultures.
He added: “An area equivalent to the combined area of the US, UK, China and Russia would need to be forested to sequester one year’s worth of emissions.”
READ MORE: Climate change is having a bigger impact on rainforest ecosystems than deforestation
Climate change is having a greater impact on the rainforest than deforestation, according to a new study of mammals in South America.
Researchers at the Field Museum in Chicago say that while deforestation is leading to the extinction of some local animal populations, global warming is causing entire species to die out.
The multi-billion dollar logging industry was once thought to be the biggest threat to ecosystems, but researchers now believe climate change is having a larger impact.
Lead author Professor Noe de la Sancha said “Save the rainforests” is a snappy slogan, but it doesn’t tell the whole story about how complicated it is to do just that.
He said they created a detailed measure of biodiversity by looking at the diversity of species and their place in the ecosystem, rather than the total number of living things.
By measuring traits such as ear, foot and tail size in species like Euryoryzomys russatus, researchers can quantify functional diversity in large rainforests