Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Highest Africa forests store more carbon than thought



Highest Africa forests store more carbon than thought

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Mountain forests in Africa can absorb far more carbon than previously thought. AFP

Highest Africa forests store more carbon than thought

Africa's mountain forests may store up to two-thirds more carbon than previously thought, according to research published on August 25 that highlights the role the threatened ecosystems can play in battling climate change.

Traditionally, forests at higher altitudes are thought to contain less carbon than lowland forests due to factors such as soil and climactic changes that affect growth and thus the amount of carbon the trees can absorb.

To more accurately estimate the carbon stored in these so-called montane forests, an international team analysed data on carbon stored in trees across 44 highland sites in 12 African countries.

They measured the height and diameter of more than 72,000 trees to calculate the wood’s density and logged the species in each plot.

From that they were able to calculate the amount of carbon stored per unit of forested area.

Writing in Nature, the team found that Africa’s montane forests contain an average of 149.4 tonnes of carbon per hectare – roughly equivalent to the carbon storage rates seen in African lowland forests.

Notably, this is two-thirds higher than estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – some 89.3 tonnes of carbon per hectare.

Yet montane forests are under threat from logging, mining and land clearance for farming.

The study found for example that Mozambique had lost nearly a third of its 18,000ha of high-altitude forests since 2000.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, around half a million hectares of montane forest have been lost this century, accounting for most of the roughly 800,000ha lost across Africa in that time.

“African montane forests are immensely valuable. They store vast amounts of carbon, and thereby have a key role in tackling climate change,” Nicolas Barbier, from the University of Montpellier and France’s Nature Centre for Scientific Research, said in a linked comment article.

“Of course, this immense intrinsic value does not preclude human exploitation of these ecosystems.”

The authors said the research had a range of policy implications, including the use of “carbon finance” – inducements to conserve forests rather than cut them down.

Past underestimates by the IPCC of the carbon storage potential of African high-altitude forests may have given governments little incentive to preserve them, they said.

Barbier said that setting a fair price on preserving carbon stores such as montane forests could help check the “flood of damage” and stimulate African economies.

“The aim is to reward African countries … for their conservation endeavours, and for renouncing efforts to access the timber and ore in these ecosystems, even when such resources are otherwise desperately lacking,” he wrote.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’