The regrowth of Amazon forests is happening much slower than previously expected, a new study has found. Experts believe that the finding has a crucial significance, as climate scientists might have overlooked the ability of secondary forests to soak up carbon from the earth's atmosphere.

Is the earth choking due to climate change?

Amazon fire
This is recently deforested land in the Amazon Marizilda Cruppe/Rede Amazônia Sustentável

The study which lasted for over two decades reveals that climate change and the wider loss of forests are two crucial factors that hamper the regrowth of Amazon forests. Scientists believe that secondary forests have a crucial role to play in combating human-triggered climate change.

The new study published in the journal Ecology suggests that secondary forests held only 40 percent of the carbon in the forests that had not been disturbed by humans. As per the researchers, the trend reveals that it will take well over a century for the forests to fully recover.

"The region we studied in the Amazon has seen an increase in temperature of 0.1 C per decade, and tree growth was lower during periods of drought. With predictions of more drought in the future, we must be cautious about the ability of secondary forests to mitigate climate change. Our results underline the need for international agreements that minimize the impacts of climate change," said Fernando Elias, a researcher at the Federal University of Pará, in a recent statement.

Shelter for endangered species

Apart from helping the planet to recover from the harmful effects of climate change, secondary forests will also offer shelter to several endangered species. However, the new research shows no increase in species diversity during the 20 years of monitoring.

The study strongly warns that large forest restoration pledges should be accompanied by firmer action against deforestation of primary forests. Researchers also believe that more long-term studies should be done to further understand secondary forest resilience.