Forest a better option to combat Climate change
In recent climate change negotiations, discussion has primarily been pin pointed to forest because the world has recognized the forestry a cost-effective means for carbon sequestration. Deforestation and land use change is the second leading source of Green House Gas (GHG) emission next to burning of fossil fuel for the energy production. Currently, forestry sector is estimated to contribute around 20- 25 percent of total anthropogenic global green house gas emission which is higher than the emission by global transportation.
A tree naturally absorbs the Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis and converts this into biomass, thereby regulating the global carbon cycle by storage and sequestration. Carbon contained in the soil of forest ecosystems is also an important store, particularly in the case of peat forests. Much of the biomass is incorporated in to the soil as organic, when whole trees or parts of them die and fall to the forest floor much carbon. The process of deforestation affects carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in two ways. During the process carbon dioxide releases in the atmosphere by burning and rotting process, while its aftereffects are more. First of all there is no forest to grow and absorb the carbon dioxide. Besides deforestation in a particular place prevents forest products being put to use, so demands of concrete, steel, and bricks increases those consumes far more fossil fuels during their manufacture, adding more Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In addition, deforestation affects local climate pattern by reducing wind speed, and direct sun light to surface leading to more dryness on the land. It also causes extreme heat and wind chill near the ground. While, large scale deforestation changes the global climate pattern by reducing humidity causing hotter day and colder night thus changing rainfall, precipitation and wind pattern. In one word, lack of tree means less evaporation and less humid air blown from the deforested area. Sometimes the hotter surface may be focal point of convection thunderstorm.
Currently large volume of carbon dioxide is stored in the forest. According to Nicholas Stern, advisor to the UK Government on the economics of Climate Change and Development and former Chief Economist of World Bank in The Economics of Climate Change (2006) the earth vegetation and soil currently contain the equivalent of almost 7500 Gt. Carbon dioxide which is greater than all contained in all remaining oil stocks, and more than double the total amount of Carbon currently accumulated in the atmosphere. The amount of Carbon currently locked up in the forest is alone greater than the total amount of Carbon in the atmosphere. As much as 77 percent of the global terrestrial carbon is stored in the forest ecosystem (Parry et al. 2007). And if deforestation and forest fire occur all the locked up Carbon goes to atmosphere, thereby contributing to the green House Effect. In the later period of the history, the rate of deforestation and forest fire has been very high and unchecked. Globally deforestation is now occurring at a net rate of 10.8 million hector per year (0.3% per year, 1990-1995 average), and the highest rate of deforestation appears the recent times, in tropical forest of Asia, Africa, Central and South America. It is estimated that 90% of the recent tropical deforestation occurred since 1970. More importantly, in 1981 tropical forest was 1.9 billion hector, but within lees than a decade it came to 1.7 billion hector with annual deforestation rate of 0.8 percent per year (FAO.1993). Indonesia with 10 percent of world’s rain forest is losing approximately nine hundred hector forest each year. If GHG emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) are considered, Indonesia becomes the third biggest emitter worldwide. The devastating forest fires in Indonesia in 1998 and 1999 are believed to have released up to 40 per cent of the total anthropogenic GHG emissions worldwide during those years. On the other hand, the timber selling countries like Papua New Guinea are annually releasing carbon to the atmosphere of greater monetary value than their log exports, being an underutilized resource if it is not stored and accurately measured.
Reducing deforestation, afforestation and conservation is a highly efficacious way to quickly curtail green house gas (GHG) emissions with low opportunity costs as it does not requires new technologies except for few cases like monitoring. Acton to curb deforestation offers opportunity to reduce GHG on significant scale, however, there are some controversies in a clear and transparent system to monitor report and account for changes in emissions. This action also brings co-benefit to national and local level in terms of local soil and water and climate protection. Besides it gives opportunity for the sustainable forest management and protection of biodiversity and livelihood. More importantly it ensures the right of the local community in long run. So, conservation of forest could provide wide range of benefits than just avoiding the emission.