Nearly 59 million hectares of forests – an area larger than France – has regrown since 2000, according to new analysis published by Trillion Trees.
The study points to the Atlantic Forest in Brazil as one of the success stories for regeneration, where an estimated 4.2 million hectares have regrown since 2000.
This has been through a combination of planning projects to restore the land and thanks to more responsible industry practices.
This study is designed to help inform forest restoration plans worldwide, it is part of a two-year research project, which involved examining more than 30 years’ worth of satellite imaging data and surveying experts with on the ground knowledge of more than a hundred sites in 29 different countries.
However, despite these encouraging signs, the authors warn that regeneration cannot be taken for granted.
Forests across Brazil continue to face significant threats, even the Atlantic Forests – a recognised success story in restoration, still needs to more than double from currently 12% of its original extent to 30%, in order to reach what scientists believe is a minimal threshold for its lasting conservation.
William Baldwin-Cantello, director of nature-based solutions at WWF said: ‘The science is clear: if we are to avoid dangerous climate change and turn around the loss of nature, we must both halt deforestation and restore natural forests.
‘We’ve known for a long time that natural forest regeneration is often cheaper, richer in carbon and better for biodiversity than actively planted forests, and this research tells us where and why regeneration is happening, and how we can recreate those conditions elsewhere.
‘But we can’t take this regeneration for granted – deforestation still claims millions of hectares every year, vastly more than is regenerated. To realise the potential of forests as a climate solution, we need support for regeneration in climate delivery plans and must tackle the drivers of deforestation, which in the UK means strong domestic laws to prevent our food causing deforestation overseas.’
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