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HomeScienceStudy Shows Conserving Large Trees for Wildlife Benefits Climate as Well

Study Shows Conserving Large Trees for Wildlife Benefits Climate as Well


Great diameter fir (Abies grandis) in a mixed coniferous forest in northeastern Oregon. These carbon-rich forests have a significant cooling effect on temperature extremes, provide a thermal haven for biodiversity including sensitive species, and are a high priority for protection. Large, large fir trees make the best hollow trees for wildlife. credit: Conservation science and practice (2023). DOI: 10.1111/csp2.12944

Big trees provide major solutions to the climate and biodiversity crisis we need right now. As President Biden has advocated for the protection of mature and old-growth trees on federal lands, the study describes synergies between protecting these large trees of disproportionate value and forest resilience goals, offering joint solutions to these pressing challenges.

A previous analysis found that large trees protected under the “21-inch rule” account for only 3% of the total stems in affected forests but contain 42% of all aboveground carbon. Instead of continuing to protect inherited carbon and biodiversity treasures, the US Forest Service recently relaxed the 21-inch rule opening the door to large-scale logging across millions of acres of national forest land east of Cascades Crest in Oregon and Washington.

The new analysis does not support the justification for weakening screen competition between large trees. Large-scale cutting down of some existing large trees will eliminate these carbon stores while releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when we need greater sequestration by natural systems to stabilize the Earth’s climate.

There is growing interest in policy opportunities that align biodiversity conservation and restoration with climate change mitigation and adaptation priorities. The authors conclude that the “21-inch rule” provides an excellent example of such a policy initiated to protect wildlife and habitat that also delivered important climate mitigation values ​​across the PNW’s extensive forests.

said David Mildrexler, lead author of the study.

“No action is required of us but to leave these large trees standing so they can continue to store and accumulate carbon in order to mitigate climate change and provide critical habitat,” said co-author Bev Low.

The study has been published in the journal Conservation science and practice.

more information:
David J. Mildrexler et al, Protecting large trees for climate change mitigation, biodiversity and forest resilience, Conservation science and practice (2023). DOI: 10.1111/csp2.12944

Provided by the Institute for Conservation Biology

the quoteProtecting big trees for wildlife benefits the climate, too, says study (2023, 24 April)

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