Healthy Forests Absorb 1/5 Of Global Warming Pollution

Tropical trees have grown bigger over the past half century and now absorb 20 percent of global warming pollution from the atmosphere, emphasizing the urgent need to preserve threatened forests, researchers said recently.

Using data collected from 250,000 trees in the world's tropical forests over the past 40 years, their study found that tropical forests across the world remove 4.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Tropical forests now make up about half of the world's "land carbon sink", the British researchers said in the journal Nature.

"To get an idea of the value of the sink, the removal of nearly 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by intact tropical forests, based on realistic prices for a ton of carbon, should be valued at around [$19 billion dollars] per year," study co-author Lee White, Gabon's chief climate change scientist, said in a statement.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that human activity produces 32 billion tons of carbon dioxide worldwide each year.

Published: February 25, 2009