New study emphasises importance of undisturbed old-growth forest
A new study published in Nature last week (Luyssaert et al., 2008) highlights the critical importance of old-growth forests; not only as carbon sinks but also as ongoing accumulators of carbon.
Up until now it has been generally accepted that old growth forests cease to acculmulate carbon beyond a certain point. This study finds that ageing forests can in fact continue to accumulate carbon, contrary to the long-standing view that they are carbon neutral.
Old-growth forests therefore accumulate and store carbon for many centuries; the study warns that much of this carbon, even soil carbon, will move back into the atmosphere if these forests are disturbed.