SPECIES RICH FORESTS OFFER STABLE CARBON CAPTURE
13, Jan 2020
Prelims level : Climate Change and its Impacts Mains level : GS-III Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment
Why in News?
- An International Team of Researchers has shown that carbon storage was highest in species-rich evergreen forest.
- The team Spent over six months conducting surveys inside Anamalai Tiger Reserve and using satellite data from multiple locations in the Western Ghats.
- The research adds that the rate of carbon capture was more stable across years in forests than in plantations, and carbon capture by forests was more resilient to drought.
- The study was done in natural evergreen and deciduous forests, and in teak and eucalyptus plantations.
- The studied eucalyptus plantations had comparatively lower carbon storage, while teak plantations stored nearly as much carbon as deciduous forests.
- The team identified the trees, measured their girth and height in 250 square plots inside the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, and used the measurements to estimate carbon storage in different forests and plantation types.
- They then used satellite data from Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, Rajiv Gandhi Tiger Reserve, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and Bhadra Tiger Reserve, along with Anamalai to assess the rate of carbon capture and how they varied across years.
- Annual rainfall and stressors like drought were all taken into consideration for the study. The storage in teak and eucalyptus plantations was 43% and 55% less, respectively.
- The researchers also found that the rates of carbon capture remained nearly the same year after year in natural forests compared with plantations.
- The findings suggest that protecting and regenerating natural forests comprising a diverse mix of native tree species is more reliable in the long term than raising monoculture or species-poor plantations as a strategy for mitigating climate change.
- Species-rich forests are beneficial for biodiversity as they also provide habitat to many other components like insects, birds, etc. Previous studies have shown that species-rich forests are also resistant to diseases.
- They also added that the ability to regenerate the seeds differ across species and so a multi-species forest would likely show greater resilience in case of a fire.
Anamalai Tiger Reserve:
- Aanaimalai Tiger Reserve, earlier known as Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park and previously as Aanaimalai Wildlife Sanctuary, is a protected area located in the Anaimalai Hills of Pollachi and Valparai taluks of Coimbatore District and Udumalaipettai taluk in Tiruppur District, Tamil Nadu.
- Major reservoirs like Parambikulam Reservoir, Aliyar Reservoir, Thirumurthi Reservoir, Upper Aliyar Reservoir, Kadambarai, Sholayar Dam and Amaravathi Dam are fed by the perennial rivers which originate from the Sanctuary.
- The area has significant anthropological diversity with more than 4600 Adivasi people from six tribes of indigenous people living in 34 settlements.
- The tribes are the Kadars, Malasars, Malaimalasar s, Pulaiyars, Muduvars and the Eravallan (Eravalar). The diverse topography and rainfall gradient allow a wide variety of vegetation comprising a mix of natural and man-made habitats.
- The former includes wet evergreen forest and semi-evergreen forest, montane shola-grassland, moist deciduous, dry deciduous, thorn forests and marshes.
- Tropical montane forests occur at higher elevations and are interspersed with montane grasslands, forming the shola-grassland complex.