A study published in the journal Conservation Science and Practice shows that conserving the largest trees is a benefit in the face of climate change and, therefore, the environmental emergencies facing the world.
The trees protected by the “21-inch” rule in the East Cascades Crest National Forest in Oregon and Washington (United States) are only 3% of the properties affected by logging, yet they absorb 42% of carbon.
Recently, the United States Forest Service relaxed the “21-inch rule”, which protected large trees by 42% of the total aboveground carbon sequestered in affected forests.
However, a new analysis found that cutting down even some of these large trees would release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making it important to protect them because they provide a natural climate solution and at no cost.
The authors suggest policies to preserve existing forest carbon stores while protecting habitat and biodiversity. Leaving these large trees standing will continue to store and store carbon for climate mitigation and provide important habitats.
Preserving Ancient Trees for Conservation
Some trees, such as the ancient trees that can live up to 5,000 years, have the ability to accumulate and store a significant amount of carbon over their lifetime.
Thus, it is important to leave these large trees standing so that they can continue to serve as a means of climate mitigation and provide essential habitat for wildlife.
Professor Beverly E. Law, co-author of the study, emphasized that no other action is needed from humans other than to protect these trees.
According to researchers, more than 50% of the habitats of all identified plant and animal species on the planet are located in forests.
The authors of a study titled “Ancient Trees: Irreplaceable Conservation Resource for Ecosystems” stress the importance of preserving ancient trees as unique habitats for the conservation of threatened species.
These trees can also resist and buffer climate warming. The authors call for international efforts to preserve these centers of diversity and resilience.
Relaxation of “21-inch rule” threatens carbon stores and biodiversity
However, a recent relaxation of the “21-inch rule” by the US Forest Service allows the harvesting of these essential carbon stores on millions of national forest lands in Washington and Oregon.
This action can result in the loss of valuable carbon stores, the loss of important habitats, and the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, leading to climate and biodiversity crises.
The authors of the new study stress the importance of the 21-inch rule as a good example of an effective policy that addresses biodiversity and habitat conservation, recovery, climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Studies also show that more than half of the habitats of all plant and animal species identified on Earth are found in forests.
Therefore, there is an urgent need for a global coalition to protect and propagate ancient trees using advanced technologies and community scientists before they go extinct.
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