On Nature: Nature and Climate

On Nature: David Voigts

Reducing fossil fuel use to reduce climate change is critical, but removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is also important. A study published by the National Academy of Science found that nature is an important tool for accomplishing this. Reforestation is most important and would remove more carbon than all the other uses of nature combined. While reforesting large tracts can be expensive, even planting a tree in your backyard would help.

The second most important use of nature, and one that would cost less, is avoiding the loss of trees in the first place. It is imperative that unsustainable logging is ended. Additional benefits can also be realized by better management of existing forests.

There are also practices in agriculture and grasslands that will remove considerable atmospheric carbon. One that shows particular promise is planting trees in cropland, particularly in marginal lands. These trees could also provide a new cash crop. Additional benefits can be realized by nutrient management in croplands, including increased incorporation of organic material. Finally, better management of grazing lands and improved feed also would bring substantial benefits.

These examples will not be easy, but nature is an important tool in combating climate change.

David Voigts is a retired ecologist and the current Conservation Chair for the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society. He is a Tama County native, graduating from Dinsdale High School, and lives in rural Jesup on his wife’s family farm.