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Key messages:

  • Biodiversity strengthens ecosystems, increasing their resistance to extreme climate events and improving their capacity to stem climate change
  • A reversal in deforestation trends would allow forests to absorb as much as 30% of global carbon emissions.
  • Forests alone absorbed one-sixth of carbon dioxide released by fossil fuel emissions between 1900 and 2007
  • Biodiversity loss threatens the productivity of even those forests not at risk of deforestation

By Justin Worland

“For decades, scientists and policymakers have focused on changing human behavior to address climate change. Regulations have mandated reduced carbon emissions, subsidies have supported the development of renewable energy and individuals have worked to make their lifestyles more sustainable.

But, while addressing global warming will inevitably require humans to change behavior, a growing body of research supports the need for solutions rooted in nature: ensuring biodiversity, revitalizing forests and supporting other natural environments. A new study in the journal Nature offers the strongest evidence yet that biodiversity strengthens ecosystems, increasing their resistance to extreme climate events and improving their capacity to stem climate change.

For years, the researchers behind the study evaluated 46 grassland ecosystems in Europe and North America, collecting data on the production of organic matter called biomass. Because species in any given ecosystem rely on biomass for energy, biomass production serves as a metric for the health of a community. In grasslands areas with only one or two species, ecosystems’ biomass production declined by approximately 50% on average during extreme climate events. In communities with between 16 and 32 species, biomass production declined by only 25%…”

Read on at: Time