Today’s problem could be tomorrow’s solution. Forests currently only remove about 33% of the world’s carbon emissions each year. With forest restoration investments, forests could remove 7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to the carbon emissions of 1.5 billion vehicles, more than the number of cars in the entire world.
If we don’t reverse the trend of depleting healthy forest stands and increasing wildfire activity, forests could continue to do increasingly more harm than good. In a healthy forest ecosystem, fire serves an important function by consuming small and sick trees so the larger trees might survive. The charcoal left behind in the soil and bark of surviving trees provides necessary fertilizer for the next generation of plants. Controlled burns have successfully played a role in replicating the role of wildfire in the forest ecosystem, thinning and cleaning the forest floor after years of suppression have enabled it to accumulate to unhealthy levels. However, mechanical thinning is not a sufficient alternative. When the debris is burned and turned to ash, all of the stored carbon is released into the air. If it were turned into charcoal instead of ash, it would store about 50% of the carbon in the charcoal deposited in the ground, rather than the environment, and could provide life-sustaining nutrients to the area for hundreds to thousands of years.
Biochar provides an opportunity to return to being great stewards of our forests, putting the carbon back into the soil instead of the air. Understanding the carbon cycle and working within the parameters Mother Nature gave us is the path of least resistance to sustainable forest resiliency.
Swan Score: A+
Debris-burning duties can be done in half the time
Fire Protection Association
Healthier forests mean less danger for firefighters
Biochar reduces carbon emissions by 50% and stores remainder
Debris burning can improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk
Free sustainable forest resiliency plan adds $0 to expense budget