Coolymplanet proposes reforestation and afforestation as two good solutions to combat climate change. It is important to increase carbon sequestration by means of reforestation (or afforestation) since it helps to mitigate global warming by slowing the growth of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. It is a fact that before the Industrial Revolution atmospheric CO2 concentrations were much lower than currently. The main sources of fluctuation in atmospheric levels of carbon were changes in biomass and soil organic carbon.Humans, by means of deforestation and burning fossil fuels have altered this carbon equilibrium.
Reforestation then, is a direct human-induced activity that involves a change in the land use.Reforestation can be used to enhance the quality of human life by absorbing and capturing CO2 and other damaging particles. It also can take part in Ecosystem Restoration and it can mitigate global warming by means of biosequestration of CO2. An important fact is that reforestation helps to harvest resources, as the timber. The difference between reforestation and afforestation is that while reforestation is the reestablishment of forest cover, afforestation is the establishment of trees in an area where there was no forest.
Trees are able to concentrate and store carbon. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it into carbohydrates and oxygen. These carbohydrates, including glucose, are used to build cellulose and lignin, the main constituents of the wood of branches and barks of the trees. The generated carbon by means of photosynthesis remains stored for the life of the wood product but when a tree or wood product is burnt, the carbon returns to the atmosphere trough Carbon Cycle.
Photosynthesis is a process in which plants (and other organisms) convert sunlight into chemical energy. This chemical energy is stored in carbohydrate molecules (such as sugars) which are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water.
First, sunlight is absorbed by proteins that contain green chlorophyll pigments. These proteins are held inside organelles called chloroplasts. Reactions are light-dependent and some energy is used to strip electronsfrom substances such as water, producing oxygen. Furthermore, two extra compounds are generated: NADPH and ATP (the energy of cells) Sugars are produced by light-independent reactions known as the Calvin cycle. In the Calvin cycle, atmospheric CO2 is incorporated into an already existing organic carbon compound, (the ribulose bisphosphate).
Numerous scientists have estimated that afforestation and reforestation could achieve annual carbon sequestration rates in biomass of 0.4-1.2t/hayr in boreal regions, 1.5-4.5 t/hayr in temperate regions, and 4-8 t/hayr in tropical regions. There is 0.3 tC/m3 of wood in boreal and temperate regions and 0.4 tC/m3 wood in tropical regions.
Forests are important because they take part in the carbon cycle trough photosynthesis. Both, reforestation and afforestation can be two similar ways to combat climate change since they are able to remove CO2 from the air. Once they have picked up the atmospheric CO2, they store it for a long time. Forests remove around three billion tons of anthropogenic carbon every year (30% of all carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels).
The amount of captured and stored carbon depends on multiple factors: