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A new study has warned that Europe’s forests are showing signs of reaching saturation point in their ability to absorb carbon dioxide.
It means one of the continent’s main defences against global warming is under threat.
A declining volume of trees, deforestation and the impact of natural disturbances are to blame.
Forests currently soak up about 10 percent of Europe’s emissions, but woodlands from Spain to Sweden are getting older and are packed with trees that are less efficient at soaking them up.
Calculations suggest saturation point could be reached by around 2030 unless governments take action.
The information comes in a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“These regrowing forests have shown to be a persistent carbon sink, projected to continue for decades, however, there are early signs of saturation. Forest policies and management strategies need revision if we want to sustain the sink,” the report said.