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How much does a forest weigh exactly?

Actu - How much does a forest weigh exactly?

Introducing the newest contributor to our blog, world-renowned scientist Catherine Potvin.

"How much does a forest weigh? This strange question is at the heart of my research as a professor of ecology at McGill University. I will be blogging once a month for Equiterre from my perspective as a scientist. I will share the latest news from the world of science. I will give you my take on new research so that we can better understand climate change – and do something about it.

One of my friends told me that everyone needs a course in Climate Change 101. It’s true that it’s difficult to understand the climate when we have enough trouble as it is just predicting the weather… The role of scientists like me is to reduce uncertainties, step by step. To reach a better understanding.

I work on the connection between land use and climate change. I am passionate about forests. We say that they are the lungs of the planet because, through photosynthesis, plants capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. Half of a tree’s weight is carbon.

Forests have therefore become an important tool in the fight against climate change. On the one hand, reforestation acts as a pump, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. On the other hand, existing forests prevent carbon dioxide from being emitted. To measure the importance of these activities, you have to determine the amount of carbon that is sequestered (or “stored”): You have to measure the weight of the forest. Not easy, when you think about it.

You can not cut the forest down to weigh it, because that would destroy it. To see how we do it, visit my Facebook page, where I’ve posted some videos explaining how we measure forest carbon."

Guest blogger Catherine Potvin is a professor and researcher in the biology department at McGill University. She was the first woman to receive the Miroslaw Romanowski Medal for scientific work relating to environmental problems from the Royal Society of Canada, and is the founder of the McGill’s Neortropical Ecology Lab in Panama. She divides her time between Quebec and Central America. She has represented Panama at UN climate negotiations.