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If during the next 40 years the natural regeneration of young secondary forests in Latin America located below 1,000 meters in height is allowed, their potential as carbon sinks will double.
Biologist María Claudia Fandiño, co-author of the study published in Science Advances (May 13), tells SciDev.Net that with legal instruments and economic incentives, nature would be allowed to "do what it knows at a minimum cost."
"I think it will be a hit to promote natural regeneration as potential carbon sequestration." Claudia Martínez, former Vice Minister of the Environment of Colombia
During the regeneration of young secondary forest - that which begins to green naturally after being deforested, and which has not been more than 20 years old in this process - is when the forest biomass increases most rapidly and therefore the forest biomass is more active. carbon storage.
The study included 1,148 transects - strips of land - in 43 regions of the Latin American neotropics, an area that stretches from southern Mexico to Chile, including Florida and the Caribbean.
Based on 2008 data, he found that 17 percent of Latin American forests would be young secondary and 11 percent would be between 20 and 60 years old.
“We calculated the potential carbon storage of biomass above ground during the period 2008-2048,” Robin Chazdon, lead author of the article, researcher at the International Institute for Sustainability in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, told SciDev.Net. leader of the interdisciplinary network of 60 scientists that conducted the study.
They concluded that the carbon that would be stored in 40 years would be equivalent to the total emissions released in all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean between 1993 and 2014, as a result of the use of fossil fuels and industrial processes.
"Natural regeneration is a low-cost, nature-based solution to carbon sequestration with enormous potential in the Neotropics," the study says.
95 percent of this potential is in ten countries in the region, led by Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico.
The results support Article 5 of the Paris Agreement (COP21), which recommends adopting measures to conserve and increase sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, including forests.
It would be interesting to know projections of deforestation versus regeneration, Claudia Martínez, director of E3- Ecology, Economy and Ethics, representative for Colombia of the Climate and Development Alliance (CDKN) and former deputy minister of the environment, tells SciDev.Net. "I think it will be a hit to promote natural regeneration as potential carbon sequestration," he says.
But Chazon says that although it is an important step, they do not yet have a strategy to reach decision makers. “I think we need to partner with agencies and NGOs that politicians trust. Once that trust is established, information will flow in both directions. But this must be done independently in all countries ”, he concludes.