Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Old Growth Forest Must No Longer Be Ignored In Carbon Balances

Date:
September 25, 2008
Source:
CNRS
Summary:
Ancient forests, which accumulate large quantities of carbon over the centuries, should be taken into account in global carbon balance assessments. However, such old growth forests were not included in the Kyoto protocol.

Ancient forests, which accumulate large quantities of carbon over the centuries, should be taken into account in global carbon balance assessments. However, such old growth forests were not included in the Kyoto protocol.
Credit: iStockphoto

An international study involving a team from LSCE (CNRS-CEA-UVSQ) has revealed that ancient forests, which accumulate large quantities of carbon over the centuries, should be taken into account in global carbon balance assessments. However, such old growth forests were not included in the Kyoto protocol.

Related Articles


In the carbon cycle, forests help to slow down the build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide by absorbing this gas, thereby mitigating climate change. Specifically, forests use CO2 to synthesise the organic molecules that are stored in trees, and thereafter in organic soil matter and dead leaves, which decompose slowly.

The ability of forests to fix carbon dioxide depends on the balance between the amounts removed from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and those released as a result of plant respiration.

In the late 1960's, an American scientist named Eugene Odum put forward the hypothesis that the carbon dioxide fixing and release rates in old growth forests, (i.e. woodland more than 150 years old) reached an equilibrium, rendering them neutral from a carbon balance perspective. Although little empirical evidence was produced in support of this hypothesis, it was nonetheless accepted by the vast majority of ecologists and "non-ecologists" alike. As a result, old growth forests were disregarded in the Kyoto protocol.

An international research team that includeds scientists from CEA's Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Science (LSCE - Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement) has compiled a new database using measurements made by the "CarboEurope" and "AmeriFlux" observatory networks, with the aim of accurately assessing Odum's hypothesis. "Old growth forests may actually still be accumulating carbon, in defiance of Odum's equilibrium hypothesis, explains Philippe Ciais, Deputy Director of LSCE, and co-author of the study. More than 30% of the planet's total forested area is unmanaged primary forest, half of which is located in temperate regions in the northern hemisphere. The database established for this study reveals that these ancient forests fix between 0.8 and 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon each year, and that 15% of the total forest area that has until now been totally ignored in carbon balances is in fact responsible for at least 10% of all carbon sinking activity."

The study finds that ancient forests accumulate large quantities of carbon over the centuries, which might be released in case of accidental disturbance (e.g. fire, insects, disease, storms, extreme droughts, etc.). In conclusion, carbon balance assessments should take these old growth forests into account.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CNRS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Luyssaert et al. Old-growth forests as global carbon sinks. Nature, 2008; 455 (7210): 213 DOI: 10.1038/nature07276

Cite This Page:

CNRS. "Old Growth Forest Must No Longer Be Ignored In Carbon Balances." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922175137.htm>.
CNRS. (2008, September 25). Old Growth Forest Must No Longer Be Ignored In Carbon Balances. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922175137.htm
CNRS. "Old Growth Forest Must No Longer Be Ignored In Carbon Balances." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922175137.htm (accessed January 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, January 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Clouds Fill Grand Canyon

Raw: Rare Clouds Fill Grand Canyon

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) For the second time in two months, a rare weather phenomenon filled the Grand Canyon with thick clouds just below the rim on Wednesday. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Senate Passes Bill for Keystone XL Pipeline

Senate Passes Bill for Keystone XL Pipeline

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a bipartisan bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
"Cloud Inversion" In Grand Canyon

"Cloud Inversion" In Grand Canyon

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 29, 2015) Time lapse video captures a blanket of clouds amassing in the Grand Canyon -- the result of a rare meteorological process called "cloud inversion." Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Biofuels aren&apos;t the best alternative to fossil fuels, according to a new report. In fact, they&apos;re quite a bad one. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins