Deforestation 'not so important for climate change'
- 18:45 06 December 2010 by Fred Pearce, Cancun, Mexico
Four years ago, the UN's Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change estimated that deforestation was responsible for up to 20 per cent of CO2 emissions. A more recent study by Richard Houghton of Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, revised that down to 15 per cent for the period 2000 to 2005. Both estimates relied on national declarations of forest loss made to the UN, coupled with simple estimates to convert that loss into carbon emissions.
But now ecologists at Winrock International, a respected US consultancy based in Arlington, Virginia, whose work was funded by the World Bank and the Norwegian government, says a more detailed analysis puts the figure for 2000 to 2005 at around 8 per cent, with a possible range between 5 and 12 per cent. Nancy Harris of Winrock said in Cancun that the estimate was "the lowest reported to date"...
Some forest scientists New Scientist spoke to questioned the idea that deforestation is not so important to climate change. They said that while the figures may accurately reflect deforestation by farmers, they may underestimate the carbon emissions from logging and the conversion of natural forests to plantations such as palm oil.
Under UN definitions palm oil can count as forest. The scientists believe this may be why Winrock's estimate of emissions in southeast Asia is so low.
Read more: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19817-deforestation-not-so-important-for-climate-change.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news