New research published in Science shows that planting trees may not mitigate against greenhouse gases and associated climatic changes. The study on European forests found that the over-management for economical tree crops (mainly quick growing conifers in Europe) means that they can store less carbon. Native European deciduous forests can hold up to 3.1 billion tonnes more carbon than the conifer plantations that have replaced them.
Simply planting trees will not necessarily slow down climate change, an analysis of Europe's vegetation history shows. Although the continent's forests have expanded by 10% since 1750, timber harvesting and shifts to more commercially valuable tree species have resulted in a net release of carbon to the atmosphere, a Science paper published on 4 February concludes1. The changes have also had local effects, the analysis finds, raising surface temperatures by 0.12 °C by increasing the absorption and retention of heat.