Climate change and carbon
Globally, forest ecosystems play a key role in addressing climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in growing vegetation and soil. Deforestation caused by the unsustainable harvesting of timber and the conversion of forests to other land-uses leads to significant emissions of this stored carbon back to the atmosphere. Deforestation alone currently accounts for 18% of global emissions of carbon dioxide. Forests and woodlands can also be managed as a sustainable source of wood – an alternative and less polluting energy source to fossil fuels, and a low-energy construction material.
Although they cover a small area, the forests and woodlands in Britain have a role to play too. The challenge is to protect what we have, and to make sure we can adapt to the new threats and opportunities that climate change will bring, while still maintaining and expanding a sustainable forest and woodland resource.