Trees do the vital job of absorbing carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming, and producing oxygen. But at the moment, the only way to measure how much carbon is stored in a tree is to chop it down and weigh it.
So a new technique is being developed, which uses a terrestrial laser scanner to make 3D maps of forests right down to the nearest millimetre, which can then be used to determine how much carbon is stocked in any given forest.
Researchers at UCL (University College London) believe it could be an important development in the monitoring of carbon stocks for worldwide climate policy-making. Both above-ground biomass and carbon stocks are important details for UN-REDD, the United Nations initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation that is striving to keep the destruction of forests in check and thereby preserve the uptake of carbon by trees.