A new rainforest

Understanding trees to protect climate and biodiversity

Tropical rainforests are the most species-rich ecosystem on Earth and important for the global climate. While they continue to be cut down in many countries, thousands of trees are being planted by a reforestation project in Costa Rica. This new forest will contribute to a biological corridor so that plants and animals can move between larger patches of rainforest. At the same time the growing forest is absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, counteracting anthropogenic climate change.

But is it really possible to create a new rainforest? Which tree species should be selected, what are te funchtions of a tree? And what, after all, is a forest good for, what are its functions and ecosystem services?

In the Sparkling Science project “A new rainforest”, students from two schools helped with the reforestation project and measure and recgrowth, health and survival of the planted trees. More than one hundred different tree species can grow on a single hectare of rainforest, and so many different trees are planted to establish a diverse, natural forest. However, we know rather little about most tropical trees. The project has therefore measure and document how fast different trees grow and what affects their growth. This has helped to optimise selection and care for the trees in this and future projects.

Re-growing forests is an efficient method to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. This important ecosystem services and can be used to compensate human emissions. With the data from the project we have calculated the amount of CO2 captured, which highlighted the relationship between forest protection and climate change.

Last but not least, through the excursion to Costa Rica students got to know fascinating tropical ecosystems. To excite an interest in nature in a young person and also to discover something new, there is hardly a better place than a tropical rainforest.

This project has been completed.