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Wildfires in boreal forests emit record amount of carbon emissions

Scientists estimate that boreal forests store twice as much carbon per area compared to tropical forests due to their size. Boreal forests cover 17% of land compared to tropical rainforests that cover 6%. It is essential to give these forests the attention they deserve, especially due to the wildfires in recent years. 

Wildfires in boreal forests release record levels of carbon, satellite study shows_visual 1

A new international study based on NASA's Terra Earth observation-satellite instrument, the Mopitt, finds that boreal forest fires contributed 23% (0.48 billion metric tonnes) of global carbon emissions in 2021. That’s the highest fraction since 2000. In the past years, wildfires in boreal forests only contributed about 10% of annual carbon emissions. At 23%, this figure is double the 2021 aviation carbon emissions. 

Steven Davis, co-author of the study and a researcher at the University of California, Irvine, expressed concern about the potential for boreal forests to become a ’time bomb’ of carbon, especially given the recent observations in wildfire emissions. He suggests that tangible action is needed to mitigate the potential impact, considering that this record-breaking amount will likely increase in the coming years. 

These numbers, with other statistics about deforestation rates and environmental issues, mean that we need to focus on restoring and protecting nature. One way to do that is to plant more trees. Whether you want to plant a handful or invest in nature at scale—we have a transparent and accessible way to assist you. 

Make a positive impact on the environment - plant a tree today

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