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A study has shown that letting forests regrow naturally may have more benefits than replanting trees.
It has been a common belief that replanting trees is the most reliable reforestation method. However, a new study published in the journal Nature found that leaving trees to grow back naturally may be a better and more cost-efficient alternative.
According to the study, natural forest regrowth, a method in which lands cleared for agriculture and other purposes are left alone so that trees can grow back naturally, may help native trees and wildlife flourish. For the study, experts from the World Resources Institute (WRI) and other environmental institutions measured the amount of carbon that could be captured through natural forest regrowth.
The results showed that if forests are allowed to regrow naturally, they can absorb nearly a quarter of annual global CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. This is in addition to the 30% of CO2 emissions that existing forests can currently absorb.
However, not all forests recover at the same rate. The best areas to allow forests to regrow naturally are in the tropical regions of west and central Africa. In regions such as central Europe and the Middle East, regrowth tends to take longer.
Lead author Susan Cook-Patton said that to promote natural forest regeneration, any hindrances that may disrupt or prevent its regrowth, such as fences or farm animals, should be removed.