UVM study considers trade-offs between carbon storage and wildlife habitat

Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 2:03 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Forests play a critical role in combatting climate change because they store carbon, but University of Vermont researchers say tree planting efforts also need to consider biodiversity and wildlife.

In a new study, they say it’s not enough to focus on protecting old-growth forests at the expense of young growth ones that cater to different wildlife species.

“What we found is that in some cases strategies that strive to keep as much carbon out of the air as possible simply might be incompatible with managing biodiversity. By all means, we have to keep as much carbon out of the atmosphere as possible but let’s not do so without acknowledging some of the unintended consequences,” said Caitlin Littlefield, the lead author of the study published in Conservation Science and Practice.

She says the lesson here is not to stop planting trees to combat climate change but to think critically about the trade-offs for wildlife and make sure that habitat diversity gets maintained.

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