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Tropical forests can bounce back with surprising rapidity, a new study published today suggests.

An international group of researchers has found that tropical forests have the potential to almost fully regrow if they are left untouched by humans for about 20 years. This is due to a multidimensional mechanism whereby old forest flora and fauna help a new generation of forest grow – a natural process known as “secondary succession”.

These new findings, published in Science, could play an important role in climate-breakdown mitigation and provide actionable advice on how to act next. They also suggest that it is not too late to undo the damage that humanity has done through catastrophic climate change over the last few decades.

“That’s good news, because the implication is that, 20 years … that’s a realistic time that I can think of, and that my daughter can think of, and that the policymakers can think of,” said Lourens Poorter, professor in functional ecology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and lead author of the paper. Read more…

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