Good intentions, collateral damage: forest conservation may be hurting grasslands

10 July 2014

Trees absorb CO2 and trap carbon molecules, and countless are lost as forests are felled around the world. So why not plant as many as we can? A recent paper by Dr. Kate Parr and collaborators from the University of Liverpool suggests otherwise; the planting of more trees through international reforestation schemes may actually be harming tropical grasslands, which harbor endemic species and offer unique ecosystem services.

Tropical grassy biomes (TGBs) are characterized by an abundance of fire-tolerant grasses that thrive under dry conditions. According to Parr’s study, which was published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, TGBs tend to be miscategorized as forest under international reforestation schemes, which can lead to ineffective management.

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