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The critical role of forests ‘may be lost’ due to climate change.

April 18, 2009

The ability for forests to act as carbon sinks may be lost due to climate change according to forestry scientists.

The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) says as a result of climate change, the stabilizing influence  forests have on rising carbon emissions is weakening.

If temperatures increase by 2.5C (4.5F) above pre-industrial levels, forests could release huge quantities of carbon into the atmosphere as a consequence.

The findings will be presented at the UN Forum on Forests, in New York on Monday.

Authored by 35 leading forestry scientists, the forum will discuss evidence which describes the first global assessment of the ability for forests to stabilize climate change.

Scientists at the forum hope such findings will prompt and inform climate negotiators.

If climate change continues to persist, the study finds over the next ten decades:

  • Droughts are projected to become more intense and frequent in subtropical and southern temperate forests
  • Commercial timber plantations are set to become unviable in some areas, but more productive in others
  • Climate change could result in “deepening poverty, deteriorating public health, and social conflict” among African forest-dependent communities

Co-author Professor Andreas Fischlin from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, states the fact still remains, that the only way to reduce deforestation is to reduce our green house gas emissions.

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