'Carbon Saturation' Close for Europe's Forests

Carbon sink at risk, study warns
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2013 3:33 AM CDT
'Carbon Saturation' Close for Europe's Forests
Smoke rises from a forest fire in southern Norway.   (AP Photo / Tor E. Schroder, Scanpix Norway)

Yet more bad news for the climate: Europe's forests are approaching the peak of their ability to absorb carbon and may not be able to suck up the same level of emissions in future, according to a new study. Scientists say that while Europe is at its most forested in centuries thanks to massive post-WW2 planting programs, its trees are getting older and are now more at risk from wildfires and other natural disturbances, the BBC reports.

"These forests have now reached 70-80 years old and are starting a phase in the life of a tree where the growth rate starts to come down," the lead researcher explains. "So you have large areas of old forest and even if you add these relatively small areas of new forest, this does not compensate for the loss of growth rate in the old forests." The researchers warn that saturation point could be less than 20 years away unless better forest management is put in place across Europe, reports Reuters. (More carbon emissions stories.)

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