In the recent blog post I documented
Costa Rica's successes with reforestation, but now it seems that although this remains true - these forests may not last long enough to do much for our climate as first appears.
One of the problems with using forests as carbon sinks is that the carbon is stored and not really sequestered. It really does matter how long the carbon is locked up for. After all, the carbon dioxide we're spewing into the air had been sequestered away for hundreds of thousands of years... No... more - millions of years. This means we need to find similar was to take the carbon out of the air and sequester it again for a similar time. Effectively forever.
So when we consider Costa Rica's new forests we'd like to think that we're on this path. But recent studies
show that these forests last for around 20 years. Not nearly enough to help us, unless the wood that is cut is then not burned, but is instead made into products that will not then release the carbon to the air.
From the article - “Countries need to work hard to make sure that reforestation, forest restoration and natural regeneration are a big part of their effort to mitigate climate change,” she said. “They need to make sure these forests stick around.”
Reforestation and land restoration is a complex process, and both political and economic forces are in play. Any new forests have to stick around long enough to draw carbon from the air, until we can find adequate sequestration technologies. In the meanwhile - yes protect and plant trees. But first reduce carbon emissions so the carbon does not get into the air initially.