12. All states shall negotiate to preserve and protect forests and enhance carbon sinks

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Rapporteur: Metta Spencer

Carbon Sinks

A carbon sink is a reservoir that stores carbon, keeping it sequestered instead of circulating in the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. Plants, the ocean, and soil are the main carbon sinks in nature. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air for use in photosynthesis, leaving some of this carbon in the soil when they die and decompose. The oceans also store much of the planet’s carbon dioxide.

All of these sinks are being ruined by human activities today, and heroic measures are required to protect them and use them even more extensively to sequester carbon and prevent runaway global warming. Here we will examine these natural carbon sinks as well as some technological inventions that are being proposed for use in capturing and storing or recycling carbon.


Some nations occupy land with large carbon sinks such as rainforests. And some nations — especially the industrially advanced ones — emit disproportionate amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. We are all being challenged now to reduce such emissions, mainly by using less fossil fuel. People living in rich countries find this especially hard to do, for we are accustomed to the use of abundant energy. At the same time, we are asking people in the less developed countries not to adopt the same greenhouse gas-emitting technologies that had made us rich. This is unfair, but it is also essential. Every country must cut back, including both those that caused most of the global warming problem itself and those blameless ones that will be forced unjustly to sacrifice. But naturally, not all countries seem willing to accept the necessary deprivations.

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Adam Wynne

I am cross-posting this from Overview: Pandemics as the article bears significant relevance to both of these sections. This is a very interesting article from The Editors at Scientific America in regards to the connection between deforestation and pandemics. Title: Stopping Deforestation Can Prevent Pandemics Author: The Editors (Scientific America) Publication(s): Scientific America Date: 1 May 2020 Link: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stopping-deforestation-can-prevent-pandemics/ Article Excerpt(s): “SARS, Ebola and now SARS-CoV-2: all three of these highly infectious viruses have caused global panic since 2002—and all three of them jumped to humans from wild animals that live in dense tropical forests. Three quarters of the emerging… Read more »

Adam Wynne

As the cherry blossom season arrives in many North American cities, I thought this article – which discusses research out of South Korea on the potential of cherry trees as carbon sinks – would be of interest and relevance. Title: Single Cherry Tree Can Offset 20 Pounds Of Carbon Emissions Each Year, New Study Says Author: Slisco, Aila Publication(s): Newsweek Date: 7 April 2020 Link: https://www.newsweek.com/single-cherry-tree-can-offset-20-pounds-carbon-emissions-each-year-new-study-says-1496698 Article Excerpt(s): “South Korean researchers say that cherry trees could be used to combat climate change, with the ability to offset greenhouse gases. A study from South Korea’s Forest Research Institute indicated that each… Read more »

Adam Wynne

I am shocked there is not a separate section on this site for invasive species management – particularly as these are linked to ecological decline.

Adam Wynne

Professor Spencer recently shared this fascinating article with me. The article discusses the importance of three key tree species in global rainforests: the Brazil nut tree; Rhizophora (a type of mangrove); and the African teak tree. Title: These 3 Supertrees Can Protect Us From Climate Collapse: But Can We Protect Them? Author: Barclay, Eliza; Irfan, Umair; and McConnell, Tristan Publication(s): VOX Date: 12 December 2019 Link: https://www.vox.com/a/supertrees Notes: The article contains a mix of graphics, images, and text. Well worth the read! I was additionally shocked to learn that “Rainforests get a lot of credit for being carbon sinks. But… Read more »

Adam Wynne

Thunder Bay, Ontario was recently recognized by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for its exemplary urban forest management practices. Perhaps there is opportunity for other municipalities and regions – both in Canada and elsewhere globally – to strive towards Thunder Bay’s urban forestry practices and standards. Title: Thunder Bay recognized for forestry management Author: CBC Thunder Bay Date: 11 February 2020 News Agency: CBC Canada: Thunder Bay Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-recognized-for-forestry-management-1.5458612 Article Excerpt: Thunder Bay is among nine other Canadian cities being recognized for their commitment to urban forestry management by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United… Read more »

Adam Wynne

This article about the urban black oak savannah in Toronto’s High Park is a fascinating article discussing Indigenous land stewardship in urban contexts. There is applicability for other urban contexts – both in Canada and other regions around the globe. Title: ‘It’s very precious’: Indigenous collective wants input into managing High Park’s oak savannah Author: Rhiannon Johnson Date: 15 February 2020 Publication: CBC Indigenous / CBC News Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/high-park-indigenous-land-stewardship-1.5456265 Article Excerpt: An Indigenous collective wants a more active role in land restoration and management in Toronto, with a focus on High Park’s rare black oak savannah. The Indigenous Land Stewardship… Read more »

Adam Wynne

I am saddened to hear that Israeli’s army recent blocked activists -who were working with Palestinians – from planting trees in the West Bank. More information about this can be found at the link below – though unfortunately the article is now behind a paywall. If anyone has a non-paywall version of an article about this incident, please let me know.

Title: Israeli Army Blocks 200 Activists From Planting Trees With Palestinians in West Bank
Author: Hagar Shezaf
Date: 14 February 2020
Publication: Haaretz
Link: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-army-blocks-200-activists-from-planting-trees-with-palestinians-in-west-bank-1.8533033