Policy Considerations for Using Forests to Mitigate Carbon Dioxide Emissions
A recent article in Nature, “Soil Fertility Limits Carbon Sequestration by Forest Ecosystems in a CO2-Enriched Atmosphere” by Oren and colleagues, has been widely reported on, and often misinterpreted, by the press. The article dampens enthusiasm for accelerated forest growth due to CO2 fertilization and puts in question the fringe theory that the world’s forests can provide an automatic mitigation feedback. We agree that these results increase our understanding of the global carbon cycle. At the same time, their relevance in the context of the international climate change negotiations is much more complicated than portrayed by newspapers such as the New York Times (“Role of Trees in Curbing Greenhouse Gases is Challenged”, May 24, 2001) and the Christian Science Monitor (“Trees No Savior for Global Warming”, May 25, 2001).