Wildfires, logging turn forests into carbon emitters: report

Some of the world's most protected forests are becoming carbon emitters

contributing to climate change by emitting more carbon than they absorb.

That's according to a new report that has alarmed researchers.

Forests are considered vital for curbing climate change

due to their ability to work as so-called carbon sinks.

Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen,

removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

But according to the report, at least 10 forests designated as World Heritage sites -

including Yosemite National Park in the United States –

have been net carbon emitters over the last two decades.

Other net CO2-emitting forests are located in Indonesia, Australia and Russia, among other countries.

The phenomenon is driven by human activities like logging

and intense climate-related events such as wildfires.

UNESCO investigators and researchers from advocacy groups the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

analyzed the data of 257 forests for a period from 2001 to 2020.

They say all the World Heritage site forests together do act as a net carbon sink.

To be exact, the heritage sites had a net absorption of 190 million tons of CO2 annually over the 20-year period.

Over the course of centuries the forests have stored some 13 billion tons of carbon,

equivalent to Kuwait's proven oil reserves.

The new findings drew on data published by the journal Nature Climate Change in January,

which mapped greenhouse gas emissions and absorption by forests globally.

While just 10 of the UNESCO-protected forests were found to be carbon emitters,

the report said other sites also showed clear upward trajectories in emissions.

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