European forests are showing signs of reaching a saturation point as carbon sinks, a study has suggested. Since 2005, the amount of atmospheric CO2 absorbed by the continent's trees has been slowing, researchers reported.
Writing in Nature Climate Change, they said this was a result of a declining volume of trees, deforestation and the impact of natural disturbances. Carbon sinks play a key role in the global carbon cycle and are promoted as a way to offset rising emissions.
Acer autumn leaves (Image: BBC) Many of Europe's forests are reaching an age where growth, and carbon uptake, slows down
Writing in their paper, the scientists said the continent's forests had been recovering in recent times after centuries of stock decline and deforestation.
The growth had also provided a "persistent carbon sink", which was projected to continue for decades.