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Forests sequester and store substantial amounts of carbon every year, while each year humans emit substantial amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Is it possible for forests to sequester as much carbon as we're currently emitting each year, and if so is there a rough estimate of how much reforestation would be necessary?

Of course with such drastic land use changes as it would require to reforest much of the Earth, humanity's carbon emissions would surely change. This is basically a thought experiment, or a rough analysis to highlight the potential (or lack thereof) for trees to sequester our carbon emissions.

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    $\begingroup$ Even if you reforested all the previous forests, it would not be enough to offset fossil fuel combustion. You might like this graphic: shrinkthatfootprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/… $\endgroup$ – farrenthorpe Dec 23 '18 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @farrenthorpe that would make for a good answer! Especially if you include how much the natural max forests on earth is estimated to store as a 'land sink' in that graph if it were to to be restored/when it existed $\endgroup$ – cr0 Dec 24 '18 at 4:47
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    $\begingroup$ the accepted answer to the linked question is the number of trees one need to plant EACH year. $\endgroup$ – trond hansen Dec 24 '18 at 8:18
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Reforestation is a one-off gain in carbon storage. Once a forest is fully mature, the carbon cycles back into the atmosphere as trees die and decay or are burned. So no, this will not sequester all the emissions from fossil-fuel burning. It could help offset it in the short term, but probably mainly just offsets the carbon dioxide from deforestation.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info. Good answer but what do you think about annual sequestration vs. emissions? I guess even if they were near neutral to begin with, once forests have reached climax carbon storage, if our emissions remain the same then carbon will build up in other less useful and/or more detrimental storages. $\endgroup$ – cr0 Dec 24 '18 at 4:43

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