Vienna: Forests can store more carbon dioxide (CO2) than previously thought, a study has found.

From 1990 to 2007, 8.8 billion tonnes of CO2 were released in the world through the use of fossil fuels but about one third of them were absorbed by forests.

Forests are responsible for the entire terrestrial storage of CO2, said Anatoly Shvidenko, one of the authors of the study from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg near Vienna.

The important role of forests as a global 'vacuum cleaner' of climate-damaging greenhouse gas CO2 has long been clear but the new data have proved their higher importance as terrestrial CO2-sink, IIASA said.

Data shows tropical rain forests are responsible for the absorption of over one billion tonnes of carbon per year.

The boreal coniferous forest in northern zones, primarily in Canada and Russia, swallows some 500 million tonnes per year, while the forests in the temperate zones stores annually around 780 million tonnes of carbon, according to the study published in the journal Science on Thursday.

It also shows about four billion hectares of forest currently absorbs over 860 million tonnes of carbon, mainly in forest soils and plants. However, deforestation releases 2.9 billion tonnes of carbon every year.

It is therefore, necessary to prevent the deforestation of rain forests so that the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere can be limited, said Yude Pans, lead author of the study.

(Agencies)