Rewild 25% of the UK for less climate change, more wildlife and a life lived closer to nature

phys.org | 7/2/2019 | Staff
cindy95240 (Posted by) Level 3
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The UK's Labour Party has pledged to offer voters a Green New Deal at the next election. This is a radical program for decarbonizing society and the economy by 2030, through phasing out fossil fuels, investing in renewable energy and creating a public works program to build the zero-carbon infrastructure of the future.

In my recent report, A Green New Deal for Nature, I argued that giving land back to nature could be another part of this vision. Restoring forests and other natural habitats to 25% of the UK's land surface could sequester 14% of the UK's annual greenhouse gas emissions each year. As emissions are scaled down and these ecosystems expand, they could continue to remove much greater quantities of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in future.

Climate - Solutions - Forests - Wetlands - Atmosphere

Often called "natural climate solutions," restoring forests and wetlands draws carbon down from the atmosphere and stores it in the tissue of new vegetation and soil. On a large scale, and alongside leaving fossil fuels in the ground, this could help to limit global heating to well below 2°C.

These habitats can be restored through rewilding, which means giving natural processes a helping hand by stopping the draining of peatland for example, or letting a woodland regrow. Reintroducing species that were once extinct in a region can also help ecosystems regenerate. While letting nature take care of itself isn't appropriate in all cases, rewilding is one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to resist climate breakdown and wildlife loss at the same time.

Practice

But what might that look like in practice?

For wildlife, it's important that restored habitats are connected. Linked habitats allow plants and animals to move more easily as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change. If species can migrate through green corridors to cooler areas, they could avoid local extinctions. This could mean a network of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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