Regrowing the Rain Forests

A scientist in this New York Times article points out that in some areas of the tropics, rainforests are capable of growing back extremely quickly (and therefore, we might not have to worry about managing them so much).

It's true that this is good news - after all, letting forests grow back worldwide will play a part in achieving 450-by-2050. But at the same time, the entire process is too mysterious to be much use - at least until the United Nations agriculture organization finishes its preliminary research in 2011.

And here's one thing. If rainforests are capable of regenerating that much faster than temperate forests (as the report points out) then in terms of carbon sequestration, it makes sense to redouble efforts to prevent the logging/burning of rainforests. This is natural efficiency at work!

Of course, that doesn't mean we can let tropical rainforests grow and abuse temperate forests, but we need to start right now - and if rainforests are chompin' at the bit, then let's start there.

The debate about saving rainforests touches on an old economic/political debate, too - generally, rainforests are cut/burned because there are a lot of jobless and/or hungry people in tropical countries, and creating new farms out of the rainforest (and selling the timber) is better in terms of short-term economics. We hope to touch on this subject more soon.

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