Forests are indispensable for the global carbon cycle. Besides oceans, forests act as huge carbon sinks, sucking carbon dioxide and storing carbon. Their role in diluting the effects of climate change is well known.
Sustainable forest management which leads to maximizing the forests ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere should be the top priority.
However a recent study has revealed how reforestation done in a shoddy fashion could have an adverse effect and contribute to global warming.
The study which was published in the journal Science showed that spread of forests towards dark conifers in Europe has in fact contributed to Global Warming.
The finding also trashes a widespread belief that planting trees will arrest the planet’s rising temperatures. All trees do not have the same mitigating effects in slowing down the rising global temperatures.
The study looked at all aspects of forest management in Europe since 1750 and concluded that the continent’s forest cover has increased by 10%. However, the continent’s temperatures have risen by 0.12 degree Celsius.
Most European nations have switched to planting conifers such as pines and spruces whose dark color traps the sun’s heat. Trees such as oak or birch have lighter colored, broad leaves which reflect more light.
However commercial consideration forced nations to plant more conifers such as pines and spruces which find use in everything from building materials to pulp.
It has drastically changed the role Europe’s forests have played in controlling global warming by diminishing their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from burning fossil fuels.
Conifers are also conservative with water and are adapted to reduce transpiration by having needle-like leaves. The result is a drier air due to less transpiration from the leaves. It has also contributed to global warming.
The study concluded that two and a half centuries of forest management in Europe has not cooled the Global Warming.