Forests are vital for our survival. They act to clean filter the air we breath and the water we drink and help provide the food we eat. They are also used for medicine and fuel by more than a billion people worldwide. Green spaces, including forests, are beneificial for the health and wellbeing of humans and other species. Forests are also one of the most cost-effective and efficient sources of natural protection against climate change, partly due to the fact that they act as natural carbon sinks. Halting and reversing tropical deforestation could generate up to 30% of the global climate solution. However, this can not be achieved without significantly greater investment and policy changes. Moreover, forests alone cannot protect us from climate change in the face of continued high levels of green house gas emissions and environmental pollutution. For example, a new study published this month highlights the importance yet limit of young forests as carbon sinks: “The amount of CO2 that can be taken up by forests is a finite amount: ultimately reforestation programmes will only be effective if we simultaneously work to reduce our emissions.” – Dr Pugh.
Plant scientists are working hard across the global to find new innovative ways to tackle climate change, protect the environment and move towards carbon neutral, environmentally sustainable economies, but progressive policy change is urgently needed to accelerate this process. EPSO will continue to push for investment in and legislation for the protection of forests and other forms of climate action.