A brand new research led by researchers within the Geography Division at Swansea College reveals the acute scale of loss and fragmentation of tropical forests, which as soon as lined a lot of the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
The research additionally reveals that solely 10% of the forest that’s left stays fire-resistant. The researchers warn that defending that is essential for stopping catastrophic hearth.
Tropical deforestation exacerbates recurrent peatland hearth occasions on this area. These launch globally important greenhouse gasoline emissions and produce poisonous haze occasions throughout South East Asia.
An space of tropical forest and peatland bigger than the Netherlands has burned in Indonesia up to now 5 years, in keeping with Greenpeace.
But the research reveals that contiguous tracts of undisturbed forests are usually not prone to burning even below present drought situations.
Dr. Tadas Nikonovas of Swansea College, lead writer of the analysis, defined:
“Undisturbed tropical rainforests are naturally resistant to fireside as a result of humid and funky micro-climate they preserve, successfully performing as a fireplace barrier. Opposite to the widely-held notion that worsening droughts are threatening the remaining rainforests, tropical forests in Indonesia turn out to be prone to fireside solely after human disturbance.”
Nevertheless, the research additionally reveals that at the moment solely a small fraction (~10%) of the remaining whole tropical forest cowl stays fire-resistant. The remaining (~90%) has been severely fragmented or degraded and subsequently is now not capable of preserve a fire-resistant microclimate.
Importantly, fire-resistant forests now cowl solely 3% of the area’s peatlands, leaving massive quantities of climate-critical carbon weak to burning.
The authors emphasize that the preventative position tropical forests play towards hearth is yet one more vital motive for the preservation and regeneration of the few remaining contiguous tracts of forests.
Dr. Allan Spessa of Swansea College, the challenge chief, added:
“Defending tropical forest is vital not solely for biodiversity and carbon storage but in addition for stopping future catastrophic hearth episodes. That is true for Indonesia, in addition to for tropical forest in Africa and South America.”
The analysis was revealed in a Nature group journal, Communications Earth and Atmosphere.
Reference: “Close to-complete loss of fire-resistant major tropical forest cowl in Sumatra and Kalimantan” by Tadas Nikonovas, Allan Spessa, Stefan H. Doerr, Gareth D. Clay and Symon Mezbahuddin, 18 December 2020, Communications Earth and Atmosphere.
This research is a component of Swansea College-based In the direction of Fire Early Warning System for Indonesia (ToFEWSI) challenge.