African Mountain Forests are not under much consideration as compared to the Amazon Rainforest or Forests in Asian countries but still, these forests have a very important role in the earth’s carbon cycle.
The recent research showed that tropical forests in Africa can preserve more carbon in each hectare than Amazon ever does and it is more than our imagination.
Tropical forest ecologist Aida Cuni-Sanchez from the University of York in the United Kingdom and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences says,
“The results are astonishing because the climate in mountains would be expected to lead to low carbon forests. The low temperature in mountains and as they remain covered with clouds for a longer time, this should lead to slow rate in their growth and steep unstable slopes might limit how big trees can get before they fall over and die.”
But the tropical forests in Africa likely have different trees than other continents. A team of researchers came across many trees that are growing over 70 cm and 28 inches in diameter and collected the carbon as lowland forests anywhere in Africa and Borneo. These old-aged trees are unluckily cut down for logging, mining, and other purposes due to political unrest.
The study tells that at least 0.8 million hectares of forests have been cut and this is after the beginning of the century. This is observed highly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Ethiopia. As per research that’s equated to the emissions of 450 million tons of CO₂ into the atmosphere. And if deforestation is not stopped in the upcoming ten years then the African continent could lose 0.5 million hectares more.
“There is a need of understanding the carbon stocks for many countries specifically for eastern countries where montane forests represent most of the extant evergreen old-growth forest cover. Quantifying carbon stocks in these ecosystems is critical for estimating national carbon losses from deforestation and forest degradation”.
For example, a 2019 update to the 2016 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that old forests in Africa Mountains have the same carbon-storing potential as secondary forests in other high-altitude regions, roughly 89 tons of carbon per hectare.
Most of the African countries have committed to forest restoration with respect to the Bonn Challenge. This is very much important to halt the climatic changes, but controlling deforestation must be the major thing for now.
Dr. Martin Sullivan, Study Co-Author, Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University said,
“Earlier carbon estimation for African Mountain Forests were much less than values in our study and we are optimistic that these new data will encourage carbon finance mechanisms towards avoiding deforestation in tropical mountains”.
Deforestation is still a big challenge that needs to be stopped as fast as humans can.