A recent study by the World Agroforestry Center1, which is based in Nairobi2, has revealed that agriculture protects trees and forests far more than was previously thought. Based on satellite images that have been studied, more than 10% of 10 million km2 of farmlands, or almost half the surface area of agricultural lands in the world, is covered by forests. As Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Center highlights, the area of agricultural land covered by forests “[as] revealed in this study is twice the size of the Amazon, and shows that farmers are protecting and planting trees spontaneously.”
At a time when climate change is increasingly on the agenda of the international community, this study emphasizes the real contribution of the agricultural sector to preserving trees, which trap carbon. This is a reality which must be considered, particularly at a time when the French government is planning to introduce a carbon tax (or a “climate-energy contribution”, CCE) in 2010 to encourage companies, administrations and individuals to consume less fossil energy, thereby reducing greenhouse gases. Should we tax one of the only sectors which, in fact, thanks to the vital function of photosynthesis and tree preservation, absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen?
The debate is still open, and as such, it would be interesting to do a carbon assessment of agriculture in order to evaluate the real impact of the primary sector on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
3Oil, gas, coal