SavingSpecies offers a unique opportunity to save species and at the same time to offset your carbon emissions (explanation of carbon offsets).
You, or your organization, may want to limit or balance the carbon dioxide you emit each year.
There are many ways to produce less carbon, such as driving less, car-pooling and limiting your energy use at home. But you are still producing carbon which contributes to global warming. To lessen your carbon footprint, you can contribute do things to absorb contribution, such as plant a tree. If you plant enough trees, you can be “carbon neutral" -- with no net emission of carbon. An increasing number of individuals as well as organizations are aiming to be carbon neutral.
But most of us do not have the time or resources to plant enough trees to be carbon neutral! That's where SavingSpecies will help. We plant trees, restoring deforested lands. We focus particularly on the tropics, which have the highest biodiversity and where forest grows back fastest. Our carefully selected areas have an immediate effect to protect threatened species while helping nature soak up carbon dioxide.
The projects that SavingSpecies supports tells you exactly how much carbon.
How much degraded land could be restored?
Much of the world's highest biodiversity could be saved by restoring degraded land. About 5 million square kilometers has been cleared. That's about the same amount of land that still remains in tropical forest. Degraded land is used mostly for grazing land. But the grazing is very poor and supports low densities of grazing animals. This is the lowest cost land to target for purchase and restoration.
This map shows non-tropical biodiversity hotspots (blue) and tropical rainforest. The red shows areas of deforestation. The most effective places to spend conservation dollars are where the red meets the green or blue areas. (High resolution print version 1.5MB)
Global map showing tropical and non-tropical biodiversity hotspots and where forest has been cleared. From 2005 Scientific American article by Stuart Pimm and Clinton Jenkins. (Click for full-size image.)
How much carbon would this land sequester?
When forests grow they sequester or “soak up” carbon. This is a very inexact science. Forests in warm, wet places such as the tropics hold something between 100 and 300 tons of carbon per hectare.
There’s also carbon in the soil and those numbers are even more sketchy, especially for tropical forests, which often have thin soils.
Now, some scientists debate about whether mature forests continue to sequester carbon. But SavingSpecies recommends land that is deforested. Protected, it will grow into mature forest, and soak up carbon for years to come. Which begs the question: how quickly and for how many years will the forest soak up carbon?
How quickly does deforested land soak up carbon?
The warm, wet places prioritized by SavingSpecies do a lot better at soaking up carbon than cold or dry ones. To demonstrate the point, take your houseplants (which are likely from the tropics) outside in winter or fail to water them and witness how much their growth varies.) Most forests soak up between 3 to 10 tons of carbon per hectare per year.
For how many years will the forest soak up carbon?
Forests should take about 30 years to recover. Forests older than this will continue to grow larger trees, but large trees become more widely spaced as smaller trees die, so whether the amount of wood increases is not entirely obvious. (And it isn’t obvious in the scientific results either.)
Can I have the simple answer please?
The USA puts more carbon into the atmosphere than any other country. That is 5 tons for each of us -- you, me, and everyone else. Dr. Pimm has sinned more than most because he travels to tropical forests a lot. If you live outside the USA, you likely sin less. (You can work out the amount of your "carbon sin" with our carbon calculator.) So how can you absolve your sin?
Buy just an piece of forest 200 yards by 100 yards and you will be carbon neutral for the next 30 years.
That’s quite conservative. The land area is about 1.9 hectares, which means that you will soak up somewhere between under 6 to 19 tons of carbon per year.
Simply, becoming carbon neutral is possible. And you can sustain the variety of life at the same time.