Forests in the Fight Against Global Warming
Advances in Ecological Economics series
Nothing pleases me more than to look down on a primary tropical rainforest, the greenness interrupted here and there by a tree in flower, the canopy punctuated by great emergents and knowing that the whole teems with life. It is also satisfying to look across the landscape to where a dark line of a thriving plantation provides a contrast to the grassland in the foreground. While one can romanticize about forests, I have set out to be realistic in assessing their role in augmenting and complementing the deep cuts that need to be made in the burning of fossil fuels. This book took some 14 months to write, but its gestation was much longer. As a boy, biking to school in London, I was concerned about the impacts of exhausts from factories and vehicles, and in an early physics lesson I saw how heat rays were trapped by carbon dioxide. I was only partly reassured by the knowledge that trees were splitting carbon dioxide molecules and incorporating the carbon: how effective would forests be against the inexorable increase in emissions? During my work in agricultural development I became acquainted with diverse forests in many countries. On my journey to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), to work as a soil and water conservation officer, I marveled at the endless savannahs of southern Africa. Later, I visited the vast tropical rainforests of Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, but I also saw their destruction first hand. Later still, I achieved an...