Rehabilitation of US soil and coastal wetlands could play a bigger role in reducing global warming than previously thought, according to the most comprehensive national assessment to date on how to reduce and store greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse in forests, farmland, wetlands.
The peer – reviewed study at Science Sciences from The Nature Conservancy and 21 institutional partners found that the contribution of nature could be equal to 21% of the nation's current net annual emissions by adapting 21 natural management practices to increase carbon storage and avoid greenhouse gas emissions. The study is the first to include the climatic benefits of coastal wetlands and pastures in a complete mix along with forests and agriculture.
In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's special report called for immediate action to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (about 3 Fahrenheit) in order to avoid the most harmful effects on climate change . This new study highlights how and which natural solutions in the United States offer the most promise to help reduce temperatures below this 3 Fahrenheit target.
Joe Fargione, director of science at The Nature Conservancy, was the lead author of the study: "One of America's largest assets is its land. Through changes in management, along with the protection and restoration of natural areas, we have shown we can reduce the pollution of the carbon and filter water, improve the fish and wildlife virus and have better soil health to grow our food – all at once. Nature offers us a simple and efficient way to help in combating global warming. Combined with the shift to zero carbon energy production, climate solutions can help protect our climate for future generations. "
Lynn Scarlett, Head of Foreign Affairs for Nature Protection and Former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Ministry, spoke about the practical findings of the study: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of healing, but we also need to put natural solutions to work as a tool to isolate our planet from global warming. "This study offers good news that making investments in nature will make a big difference, while offering new revenue s farmers, forest and coastal communities simultaneously. "
Of the 21 natural solutions analyzed, increased afforestation (tree planting) has emerged as the biggest means of achieving greater carbon storage, equivalent to eliminating emissions of 65 million passenger cars. Other high-yield forestry solutions include the possibility of longer periods between harvesting timber to increase carbon storage. increasing controlled burns and strategic thinning in forests to reduce the risk of a major fire. and avoiding the loss of forests from urban sprawl.
The study found a maximum of 156 million acres that could be re-cultivated, 304 million acres where the forest crop rotation could be extended and at least 42 million extra acres of forest will benefit from the fire risk reduction treatments. In addition, about one million acres of forest are converted into non-forest habitats annually, mainly due to the expansion of suburbs and land, which could be addressed through better land-use planning. The study also finds that urban reforestation can add significant carbon storage benefits.
"Planting trees and improving the health of existing forests will be a decisive factor in whether we are able to overcome the climate curve," said Jad Daley, CEO of American Forests. "This analytical analysis clarifies the actions with the greatest impact on preserving our forests as a growing and sustainable carbon sink and the likely scale of the climate.
Meadowlands are underestimated for the carbon storage opportunity. The grassland is lost at a rate of over one million acres per year. When pastures are converted into arable land, about 28% of the earth's top soil is released into the atmosphere. This trend could be reversed by rewriting 13 million acres of arable land in conservation programs and restoring them to secure habitats and carbon storage on the ground.
Existing cultivated land must play an important role. Farmers can optimize the application of their nutrients by saving money and avoiding the emission of nitrogen oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas. Farmers can also cultivate cover crops, which absorb the carbon from the atmosphere and return it to the ground during the time when the fields would normally be bare.
"Farmers are some of the best executives in our land and Danone North America is working with farms across the country to find climate solutions through our soil health initiative." "Improved nutrient management, crop coverage and crop rotation are examples of practices that can help reduce GHG emissions and over time improve the bottom line of the farm. Farmers and the food industry depend on a predictable climate, it is important to work together to reduce the risks of climate change, "said Chris Adamo, vice president of federal and industrial affairs at Danone North America.
Natural solutions can also be found under water. It is estimated that 27% of tidal wetlands have been disconnected from the ocean, increasing methane release. The reunion of tidal wetlands with the ocean essentially eliminates methane emissions and also restores the fish communities that are important for coastal communities.
"Shellfish growers live in the water and have seen salty soils lose their productivity due to the flood of freshwaters, not only this causes damage to important waters and increases emissions but also hurts their ability to live with oyster culture , mussels, mussels and other species that support many coastal communities and other important stakeholders. We can help shellfish growers, wholesalers, retailers and restaurants and the scale but at the same time as the restoration of salty meadows, "said Davis Herron, Director of the Retail and Restaurant Division, spokesman for the Shellfish Growers Climate Planning Coalition.
Not only natural solutions to climate have powerful benefits for personal enjoyment, healthier water, air, wildlife and soil, many are quite affordable. As states and the federal government assess the rules and markets for greenhouse gas emissions, these low-cost reductions from natural solutions offer the United States a powerful tool for dealing with a warming planet.
Maximizing the benefits of rehabilitating roads and currents from coal and biodiversity
J.E. Fargione at Nature Conservancy in Minneapolis, MN et al., "Natural Climate Solutions for the United States" Science Sciences (2018). advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/11/eaat1869