Over the past two decades, 10 of the world’s most protected forests have emitted more CO2 than they were able to absorb. And this is the result of human activity and climate change, according to a recent report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The authors of the report, which was based on satellite and ground-based monitoring data, calculated the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed and emitted between 2001 and 2020 by forests inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In this way, they determined that a total of 257 forests absorb each year 190 million tons of CO2 (which is equivalent to almost half of the annual emissions from fossil fuels in the UK).
However, 10 of the 257 forests considered World Heritage Sites were net sources of carbon emissions. And it was precisely the human being one of the main causes of this, since the tala ilegal land for agricultural purposes, it has contributed significantly to emissions that exceed the amount of carbon absorbed.
More broadly, among the causes is climate change. In particular, forest fires, mostly related to droughts caused by global warming, as well as extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, which make the carbon absorption process slower.
These are the 10 forests inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List that were net carbon sources between 2001 and 2020:
- The rainforest of Sumatra, Indonesia;
- The biosphere reserve of Río Plátano, Honduras;
- Yosemite National Park, EE.UU.;
- Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Canada – EE.UU.;
- The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, South Africa;
- Kinabalu park, Malaysia;
- The Uvs Nuur basin, Russia – Mongolia;
- The Grand Canyon National Park, EE.UU.;
- The region of the Blue Mountains, Australia;
- Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica.
The researchers are not optimistic in their forecasts and believe that each year more and more places will be added to the list of forests that emit more CO2 than they absorb. “[…] In the coming years, it is to be expected that carbon sequestration be disturbed at more and more world heritage sites, due to the fact that the landscapes are increasingly degraded and fragmented and the multiplication of increasingly frequent and intense climatic phenomena “, they concluded the authors of the report.
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