UMWELT
Kommentare 103

Tropenwälder – endlich einmal gute Nachrichten!

Abgeholzte Tropenwälder können viel schneller nachwachsen, als wir dachten. Natürlich wäre es viel besser, sie gar nicht erst zu roden. Aber dort, wo sie bereits abgeholzt wurden, könnte in 20 Jahren weitgehend ein dichter Wald zurückkehren – ein Zeitrahmen, der wesentlich kürzer angesetzt ist als Wissenschaftler bis jetzt dachten.

Der Mensch hat etwa zwei Drittel der tropischen Wälder der Welt zerstört oder degradiert – hauptsächlich durch das Fällen und Verbrennen von Bäumen, mit dem Ziel, Platz für die Landwirtschaft zu schaffen. Etwa alle sechs Sekunden verschwindet ein weiteres fußballfeldgroßes Waldgebiet. Angesichts dieser Krise haben viele Unternehmen versprochen, die Entwaldung in ihren Lieferketten bis 2020 zu stoppen. Dies ist jedoch nicht gelungen.

Problemfall Abholzung

Die Abholzung stellt ein großes Problem für das Klima dar, zum einen, weil dadurch riesige Mengen an Treibhausgasen freigesetzt werden – die im Jahr 2020 verlorenen Tropenwälder haben umgerechnet 570 Millionen Autos ausgestoßen – und weil vorhandene Wälder eine wichtige Rolle bei der Aufnahme neuer Emissionen spielen. Doch eine neue Studie im Magazin Science gibt Anlass zur Hoffnung: In manchen Gebieten dauert es zwar Jahrzehnte, bis sich ein Wald vollständig erholt hat, aber ein großer Teil kann auf natürliche Weise viel schneller nachwachsen, wenn er in Ruhe gelassen wird.

Nach 20 Jahren können sich durchschnittlich knapp 80 % der Altwälder regenerieren. „Das geht wirklich überraschend schnell“, sagt Lourens Poorter, Professor für funktionale Ökologie an der Universität Wageningen in den Niederlanden und Hauptautor der Studie.

Komplexer Regenwald

Aufgrund der Komplexität eines Regenwaldes erwarteten Wissenschaftler, dass es viel länger dauern würde. „Es gibt eine enorme Artenvielfalt“, sagt Poorter. „In einem der Hot Spots im Amazonas, wo ich gearbeitet habe, ist zum Beispiel jeder zweite Baum eine andere Art. Es ist umwerfend. Und das ließ uns denken, dass es Jahrhunderte dauern würde, bis sich alte Regenwälder wieder erholten.“

Eine ideale Studie würde das Nachwachsen über mindestens ein Jahrhundert hinweg verfolgen, sagt er, aber da die Zeit dafür nicht ausreicht, untersuchten die Wissenschaftler verschiedene Gebiete, die für die Landwirtschaft gerodet und dann zu verschiedenen Zeitpunkten aufgegeben wurden – vor 10, 20, 40 und 80 Jahren. Dann verglichen sie die nachgewachsenen „sekundären“ Wälder auf den Standorten mit alten Wäldern in der Nähe, wobei sie den Artenmix, die Baumgröße, die Zusammensetzung des Bodens und andere Faktoren in Betracht zogen. Obwohl sich die Wälder in der Zeit nicht vollständig erholen konnten, machten sie große Fortschritte.

Das liegt zum Teil daran, dass die warmen, feuchten Wachstumsbedingungen in den Tropen ideal für Pflanzen sind. Einige Bäume können in einem einzigen Jahr beinahe bis zu fünf Meter wachsen. Wenn der Wald auf natürliche Weise nachwachsen kann, hat das Vorteile für eine von Menschen neu bepflanzte Fläche. Die Bäume neigen dazu, sich zusammenzudrängen, wodurch Unkraut und Gras auf natürliche Weise abgeschattet werden, was das Wachstum anderer Bäume erleichtert. Es stellt auch die Feuchtigkeit der Umgebung wieder her. Der nachgewachsene Wald hat auch eine größere Artenvielfalt mit mehr Arten, die Dürre oder andere Bedrohungen besser überleben und die Tierwelt besser unterstützen können.

Voraussetzungen für natürliches Nachwachsen

Natürliches Nachwachsen kann jedoch nicht auf jedem x-beliebigen Stück entwaldeten Landes stattfinden. Wenn der verbleibende Wald zu weit entfernt ist, werden die Samen möglicherweise nicht in das Gebiet geblasen oder es bleiben nicht genügend Vögel und andere Tiere übrig, um Samen zu tragen. In einigen Fällen kann eine Baumpflanzung erforderlich sein. In anderen Fällen können Sanierungsbemühungen „unterstützte“ natürliche Regeneration nutzen.

Sicherzustellen, dass der neue Wald ungestört bleibt, ist eine weitere Herausforderung. In einigen Fällen kann ein Bauer einen Wald abbrennen, um nährstoffreichen Boden zu schaffen, das Land bewirtschaften und ihn dann aufgeben, wenn die Nährstoffe aufgebraucht sind – aber er kehrt zu ihm zurück, wenn der Wald bis zu einem bestimmten Punkt nachgewachsen ist. Andere könnten junge Bäume fällen, weil sie befürchten, dass jemand anderes es beansprucht, wenn das Land ungenutzt aussieht. Selbst wenn Länder Abholzungsgesetze durchsetzen, gelten sie oft nicht für Bäume in neu nachwachsenden Wäldern. Gemeinnützige Organisationen und Regierungen, die sich dafür einsetzen, die Entwaldung zu stoppen, müssen daher Programme ausweiten, den einkommensschwachen Bauern einen finanziellen Anreiz bieten, damit sie junge Wälder wachsen lassen. Software, die das Nachwachsen von Wäldern anhand von Satellitenbildern und anderer Fernerkundung verfolgt, kann dazu beitragen, dass Projekte tatsächlich erfolgreich sind.

Wenn jungen Wäldern jedoch die Chance zum Nachwachsen gegeben wird, sind sie ein mächtiges Werkzeug: Die jungen Bäume können etwa 11-mal mehr Kohlenstoff aufnehmen als alte Wälder. Dennoch ist es ebenso wichtig, Wege zu finden, um die ursprünglichen Wälder an Ort und Stelle zu erhalten. Es ist immer effektiver, den bestehenden Wald zu schützen. Man kann in einem vernünftigen Zeitrahmen nichts wiederherstellen, was dem Verlorenen ähnelt. Wir wollen also nicht noch mehr Wälder verlieren. Wir können sie nicht einfach wiederherstellen. Auch wenn man bestimmte Aspekte wiederherstellen kann, ist das nicht dasselbe, als den ursprünglichen Wald zurückzubringen.

fastcompany.com

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