Native forests make up 1% of the landscape in South Africa. But these forests could play key roles in reducing atmospheric carbon and identifying sustainable development practices that can be used globally to counter climate change, according to a new study. The challenge is to use forests to store carbon while also meeting local community resource needs. As trees grow, they absorb and store carbon through photosynthesis. Carbon makes up about half of a tree's mass, though it varies by species. The study is one of the first to quantify carbon content in Africa. "As we move toward sustainable development, we need to think about how local communities value and work with the characteristics of these forests," said one researcher. According to Antoinette WinklerPrins, a director of the National Science Foundation's Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program, which funded the award, "This research demonstrates the value of engaging local communities in resource conservation. Lessons from the study can be applied in many other settings."
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