Urban forests: valuable carbon sinks that must be preserved at all costs

American researchers have found that trees and soils at the extreme edges of forests grow almost twice as fast as trees in forests. These ecosystems can therefore play an essential role in carbon storage and the fight against climate change.

For this study, conducted by researchers at Boston University in collaboration with the Harvard Forest research unit, more than 48,000 forest plots in the northeastern United States were screened.

Lucy Hutyra, a biogeochemist and ecologist at Boston University and lead author of the study, spent a decade studying the carbon storage capacity of trees from roadside forests, crops or farms.

The researchers’ team found that trees planted at the edges of forests grow twice as fast as trees planted deep down, about 100 feet (30 meters) from the edge. “This is probably because the trees on the edge do not compete with the inner forest and therefore get more light”explains Luca Morreale, co-author of the study.

According to the authors of the work, these results challenge current ideas about the conservation and value of urban forests, which should not be considered merely recreational areas. While cities and countries pledge to plant more trees in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, the authors of the work emphasize the need to better conserve the edges of existing forests, usually considered easier to remove. “We underestimate the amount of carbon taken up by temperate forest areas”emphasizes Lucy Hutyra.

“We also need to think about how they might be susceptible to climate change in the future, as previous studies have shown that while these trees grow faster thanks to more sunshine, warmer temperatures cause the growth rate of the trees on the fringes to decrease »the researcher continues.

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