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A tribute to the trees

science forest pic.bmp

For all tree huggers out there, this week’s Science is dedicated to ‘forests in flux’, paying tribute to the trees and their contribution to the greater good. A special collection of articles in print, with complementary and online material, examines the fate of the world’s forests, in the face of climate change and an escalating human population.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had the chance to appreciate the languid leafiness of forest foliage, check out the online video. Or for those of you hoping for a more ‘hands on’ experience, there’s a whole section of Science Careers dedicated to opportunities in forest ecology.

There’s lots of serious science, with six Perspectives and one Review by researchers from all over the globe who give their tuppence worth on what’s needed to better understand forests and manage them properly.

Of particular relevance to discussions on how forests can mitigate global warming, Lera Miles and Valerie Kapos have a Perspective highlighting the risks involved in proposed schemes such as REDD (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) and how to minimize them. Also on this topic, Josep Canadell and Michael Raupach write on what science currently tells us is the best way to manage forests for sequestering carbon.

Drew Purves and Stephen Pacala discuss how forest dynamics remain one of the largest uncertainties in predicting future climate change and detail some of the efforts underway to improve their representation in models. Or for a really solid review of how forests affect climate change, check out Gordan Bonan’s piece here.

Or if that seems like a lot of tree pulp to get through, here are some interesting stats from the issue:

Forests cover ~42 million km2 in tropical, temperate, and boreal lands, and cover ~30% of the land surface

They store ~45% of terrestrial carbon and account for ~50% of terrestrial net primary production.

Forests hold more than double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Carbon uptake by forests in the 1990s contributed to ~33% of anthropogenic carbon emission from fossil fuel and landuse change.

Olive Heffernan

Image: Plantations of Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus nitens in Gippsland (Victoria, Australia); courtesy of Michael Ryan.


  1. Report this comment

    Ravindran said:

    People are aware about the deforestation and its aftermaths. But in huge poulated country, where encroachment cannot be avoidable as well as where can they accomodated.The expansion of industrialisation will defenitely reduce the forest stock.

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