JAMBI, Indonesia (22 November, 2012)_He carries with him a large black rucksack and carefully removes from it his mini-rhizotron video microscope, a bunch of cables and a laptop. Plugging it all in, he begins to explore the underground world inside the peat soil, which holds some of the world’s richest pools of carbon.
Sebastian Persch, a PhD student and researcher with the Center for International Forestry Research, takes the journey to Berbak National Park in Sumatra once a month to measure above-ground and below-ground biomass – the living and dead trees, roots and vegetation that contribute to the carbon stock of the forest.
Persch is trying to observe with his camera how the tiny roots from forest vegetation live, grow and die. He can use this information to calculate the amount of carbon input into the soil when the roots die.
The research is all part of CIFOR’s work on measuring and monitoring carbon and greenhouse gases in forests – crucial to the success of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or REDD+. Emissions from forests constitute nearly 12-18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Deep in the forest – a full day’s journey up and down rivers and through the sea – Persch’s plastic pipes penetrate the soil and provide a window into the peat, entering a realm seldom seen by humans.
He shows us the whole process and the nitty gritty work needed for us to understand the link between forests and climate change.