If you thought planting trees has a huge role to play when it comes to cutting down on global warming, you’d better think again.
According to a new research, trees that have been growing in Europe since 1750 are to blame for the increasing global warming. The researchers are of the view that when the broadleaved species was replaced by conifers, this trouble began. The latter is similar to spruce and pines and in general, they are darker in color. This species also absorbs lots of heat as compared to other species like birch or oak. If these species of trees are planted in masses, the scientists believe that it would be a waste of time trying to rely on tree-planting when it comes to the fight against global warming.
Effects of deforestation and reforestation
Deforestation in Europe was very high somewhere between 1750 and 1850. During this period, many depended on timber for lots of things, including energy. When this dependency was cut down by the greater use of coal and other fossil fuels (as from 1850 onwards), reforestation efforts began. The forests, which had been cut down by a massive 190,000 sq km, grew by another 386,000 sq km.
However, the main problem here is that the species of trees replanted was not the same as the one taken down. In short, the form and content of these forests wasn’t the same anymore.
In the past, forests were wild, growing on their own. But in Europe of today, these forests are managed and conserved by humans, most of which take a scientific approach to things. The approach involves the use of fast-growing species that are valuable on the commercial front, with few considerations of their possible effects on nature.
History is on the verge of being rewritten thanks to this new discovery. For over 250 years, man has known that more trees mean more carbon. However, the new research claims that with human controls into the fold, the amount of carbon stored can be far much less than what would have been the result if nature was in control.
They go ahead and say that organized deforestation tends to release carbon that if otherwise, would have remained stored in the dead wood, forest litter or even the soil. As far as the conifers and broadleaved trees are concerned, the team believes that the choice of the former over the latter has led to a reduced amount of solar radiation being reflected back to space. In addition, the dark nature of conifers means that they absorb more solar radiation than the light green-colored leaves.
Many governments, including China, have resolved to tree planting as a way of dealing with climate change. With this research in place, it is time people took into account the species of trees they are planting as well as the ways these trees are managed.
As a recommendation, the researchers think that a replacement program should be put in place. This will see to it that conifers are replaced with broadleaved trees once they are harvested.
This report can be found in the Journal Science.