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Analyses – Degraded forests now release more carbon than they store

Analyses of satellite images suggest that degraded forests now release more carbon than they store

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Degraded forests now release more carbon than they store

The global warming phenomenon pushes us to grow more and more trees. After all, the tropical forests can absorb a lot of carbon emitted by human activities. As the forest ages, they have better capacity to absorb carbon from the air. This is no new news. Everybody knows the importance of forest preservation for reducing our carbon footprint. But a striking new revelation says that man’s activities have disturbed the environment. The deforestation has resulted in the rain forests emitting carbon more than absorbing it.

This is true for forests in Africa, Asia and even America. It has been confirmed by scientists from Boston and WHRC. It stands for Woods Hole Research Centre. The scientists tried to find forests which were cleaned up for activities like agriculture or fuel generation. Some forests were lost due to natural calamities as well. In all cases the carbon density before and after had changed drastically. The satellite images and remote laser sensor technology were used to measure the areas from 2013 to 2014.

The scientists said that forests that are gone completely are difficult to measure for impact. Smaller changes in forest areas also don’t show much of impact. For instance, farmers do cut down trees for their day to day needs but those a few and far in between. But forests which have been erased to a large extent have been used in the study.


So the study has shown whether there is a net gain or a net loss of carbon. Are the forests absorbing more or releasing more? The numbers that back the study are:

  • The forests from Africa, America and Asia have absorbed 437 teragrams of carbon
  • The very same forests have released 862 teragrams of carbon
  • The net result is a release of 425 teragrams
  • How significant is this net carbon release? For comparison sake – one can assume that it is more than all the carbon emission done by US vehicles. And that is quite a lot.


Forests are supposed to protect us from the huge amount of carbon emissions in the environment. They are grown so that they can absorb all the carbon and give us fresh air. But the large scale deforestation is resulting in an exact opposite phenomenon which is quite surprising. The rainforests have started releasing more carbon than they absorb.