Forests as big as France have regenerated in the past 20 years

Good news from our planet’s reforestation endeavor! A new study has found that a forest area the size of France has regrown naturally across the world since 2000.

As reported by the BBC, the restored forests have the potential to sequester the equivalent of 5.9 Gt of carbon dioxide — more than the US emits every year, according to the conservation groups involved in the study.

The findings are the result of research conducted by a WWF-led team that used satellite data to build a map of regenerated forest land. Forest regeneration involves restoring natural woodland with little intervention such as planting native trees and fencing off livestock, or not intervening at all.

While deliberately planting trees for reforestation purposes is essential in the fight against climate change, natural forest regeneration is often “cheaper, richer in carbon and better for biodiversity than actively planted forests,” said William Baldwin-Cantello of WWF.

“Deforestation still claims millions of hectares every year, vastly more than is regenerated,” added Mr. Baldwin-Cantello. “To realize the potential of forests as a climate solution, we need support for regeneration in climate delivery plans and must tackle the drivers of deforestation.”

Among the biggest reforested lands highlighted by the study is the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, which stretches across a land roughly the size of the Netherlands. Also, in Mongolia’s northern wilderness, 1.2 million hectares of forest have regenerated since 2000. Other regeneration hotspots include central Africa and the boreal forests of Canada.

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