photo: Damien HR/Creative Commons
Another study showing us how valuable forests are (among their myriad other values) for soaking up carbon emissions: According to the new research in Science the world's forests absorb 1.1 billion tons of carbon each year, equal to 13% of all the emissions from burning fossil fuels.The amount of emissions absorbed by forests is higher than previously suspected and is worth billions of euros a year "if that quantity had to be paid out by [CO2 reduction] strategies or the price of carbon in the European market," report co-author Josep Canadell told The Independent.
At the same time though, rampant deforestation in certain parts of the world, Indonesia and Brazil topping the list, emits even more than that--2.9 billion tons of carbon each year, over 25% of all the greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.That 25% figure is a large increase from other recent estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, which placed these anywhere from 12-20%.
Balancing out some of the effect that deforestation are those forests regenerating themselves after being cleared by logging or for agriculture. Tropical forest regeneration absorbs and average of 1.6 billion tons of carbon annually.
If all that absorb-emit-reabsorb is confusing, just remember that based on the this latest research forests have both a greater capacity to absorb carbon emissions that we thought, as well as emit more emissions than we thought when we chop them down.
Read more: Mongabay has some good analysis.