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Study: Protected forests are a climate powerhouse

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Protected forests keep significantly more climate-warming carbon out of the atmosphere than unprotected forests, according to a new study. The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, illustrates just how important protected areas are in the fight to curb climate change.

Like a lot of research about earthly ecosystems, this analysis started in outer space. 

The researchers, including scientists from Conservation International, used data generated by a laser mounted on the International Space Station. The laser’s mission — called the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (known as GEDI and yes, it’s pronounced “Jedi,” as in “Star Wars”) — was to create the first-ever three-dimensional map of the world’s forests. This map is the first to measure the structure and health of forests on a global scale, enabling researchers to calculate the full amount of carbon they store. 

What they found: Forests that are in protected areas, like national parks or wilderness preserves, keep an additional 10 billion metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere….

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