Trees can recover on deforested areas on their own, and surprisingly quickly. This was done by scientists who in a recent study examined soil fertility in tropical forests. The precondition for the restoration of the destroyed ecosystem is that the place is left idle. “However, even this finding does not give people permission to kill,” the study’s authors point out.
“I was very surprised at how quickly it went. These forests can recover very quickly and, in addition, they can do it themselves, ”says Lourens Poorter, an ecologist and head of a study published in the journal Science. He and his team confirmed that nature will almost always cope in the end.
The condition is that the soil is not too destroyed and another forest is growing somewhere in the vicinity. If deforested land is left without further intervention, it will be fertile again in less than a decade. Plants and trees in their usual diversity then return in an average of twenty-five to sixty years.
In the case of tropical forests, the local climatic conditions also help. The heat and humidity allow the trees to grow faster than anywhere else. On the other hand, trees on former soybean or sugar cane plantations may have a problem, whereas other forests may not be close enough. Poorter wants to focus on that in another study.
The emerging forest is beneficial to the climate as it grows, writes The Washington Times. He likens the absorption of carbon dioxide by this type of forest to an insatiable adolescent. A child in development develops more than an aging adult.
“It gives us a glimmer of hope,” comments Meg Lowman, a study that looked at 77 growing forests in the Americas and West Africa. However, he points out that saving large mature trees and old forests is still just as important. “I don’t think it (afforestation) can replace it,” he says.
Given that the destruction of forests back into the atmosphere releases accumulated reserves of captured carbon dioxide and thus further drives climate change, the first step, according to Poorter, is to protect existing forests.
In their study, they found that the biomass of tropical forests in its entirety takes more than a century to recover and is again able to capture carbon dioxide. “First, let’s stop deforestation and protect old mature forests,” the scientist notes, referring to the familiar James Bond film motto, noting that deforested land capabilities “are not a permit to kill.”
At the Glasgow Climate Conference, many country leaders pledged to stop felling and burning forests and protect existing forests by 2030. “It’s okay to wait for the forests to recover on their own. But it will happen much faster if we help them, “says ecologist David Pearson of the University of Arizona.