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Forest as Big as France has Regrown in Last 20 Years

A new study has found that a forest area the size of France has regrown naturally across the world since 2000.

Almost 60m hectares grew back naturally worldwide over the past two decades, researchers with the Trillion Trees project found, showing the capacity of forests to repair themselves under the right conditions.

This area of returning woodlands could store the equivalent of 5.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than the annual emissions of the US, and in many cases returned with little or no human intervention, the researchers said.

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.

Regrowth has been strongest in areas including the boreal forests of Mongolia’s northern wilderness, where 1.24m hectares of forest have regenerated, as well as in central Africa and Canada.

Whilst it's very good news that such a vast amount of woodland can naturally regenerate given the right circumstances, conservationists warn "vastly" more hectares of trees are being burned and cut down each year, and called for support for forest regeneration in order to tackle climate change, as well as action to stop deforestation. So, if this destruction can be stopped and the land can be left in peace, it will be just 20 years until they are too contributing to the global effort to sequester carbon emissions.


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