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This Simple Solution To Saving Trees Might Conserve Entire Ecosystems

By Nicole Caldwell

Preserving forests and wildlife may be simpler and cheaper than previously thought. In a controlled experiment, researchers found ecosystems and forests could be saved simply by paying landowners to do nothing—no chopping, no clearing, and no selling off rights to farmers, loggers, hunters or other industries. The study, conducted in Uganda and called “Cash for Carbon,” was published in the journal Science.   

Deforestation is occurring more quickly than trees can be replanted.  

Fifty million acres of trees disappeared from the planet in 2015 alone, the Global Forest Watch found. That’s the largest single-year loss since records were first kept in 2001. Deforestation is most commonly the result of infrastructure development and expanding agricultural lands such as palm oil plantations.

This is a particularly significant issue in western Uganda, where tropical forests are being eliminated particularly quickly, to the detriment of thousands of species—in particular, a disappearing population of endangered chimpanzees. There, trees are being removed to make way for charcoal and farms.