Boreal forests store carbon, need help: Canada study

Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:59am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The world needs to do more to protect boreal forests and peatlands, which store more carbon than any other ecosystem and help mitigate the effects of climate change, a Canadian report issued Thursday said.

Boreal forests, found in northern areas like Canada, Russia, Scandinavia and parts of the United States, cover 11 percent of the earth and store 22 percent of all carbon on the land surface in soil, permafrost, peatlands and wetlands.

"Action is needed to conserve a region that contains 'The carbon the world forgot'," said the 36-page report from the Canadian Boreal Initiative, an environmental group (here).

The report said the 208.1 billion tonnes of carbon estimated to be stored by Canada's boreal forest and peatland was equivalent to 26 years worth of the world's 2006 carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning.

It's not clear if the Canadian government, which walked away from the Kyoto Protocol climate pact, might use the report as a possible way to win concessions in international talks on curbing greenhouse gas emission.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that climate talks in Copenhagen next month should take account the role of the ability of Russia's forests to absorb carbon dioxide when setting climate change targets.

The Canadian report said boreal forests and peatland had a net cooling effect on the climate because they can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground.

But these gases are released when the forests are logged or soils are disturbed, accelerating global warming, it said.   Continued...

<p>The Alaska Highway is surrounded by boreal forest running north towards Whitehorse, Yukon in this file photo taken June 21, 2007. REUTERS/Andy Clark/Files</p>