Why should someone hide some good news

Good news: a largely ruined rainforest has recovered

At least for a moment you can ignore the notoriously bad news from the world's rainforest zones and devote yourself to a good one: It comes from Borneo, where an almost completely cleared forest has recovered faster than hoped. For its regeneration, however, it had to be placed under protection for a few decades and supported with accompanying measures, as an international research team reports in the journal "Science".

For its long-term study, the team led by first author Christopher Philipson from ETH Zurich examined the development of a tropical forest in the Malaysian province of Sabah on Borneo. Largely cleared in the 1980s, it was finally placed under protection. While some areas were simply left to their own devices, forest conservationists restored others with simple measures. For example, they cut lianas that compete with trees for nutrients and sunlight, weeded weeds and planted native tree species.

Good growth rates

Together with local employees, the researchers measured the growth of the trees and the increase in biomass. They found that areas left for natural regeneration had accumulated 2.9 tons of carbon per year and hectare in the aboveground biomass. This shows that "damaged forests recover well when they are effectively protected," said Philipson.

Things went even better where people had helped: per year and hectare, reforested forests built up up to 4.4 tons of carbon in aboveground biomass - and thus one and a half times as much as forests left to their own devices. According to the authors of the study, renaturation could therefore make an important contribution to combating climate change. However, they also calculated an unpleasant value: namely that the current price for carbon in emissions trading does not cover the costs of reforestation. (red, APA, August 19, 2020)