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Trees found to be emitting methane gas

By Jim Shelton

It's time to add gassy trees to the list of climate concerns.

According to a new study by Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, diseased trees may be releasing unusually large amounts of methane gas into the air. If the data holds up, it could alter forest management strategies around the world and change the calculations for how much trees are able to offset carbon emissions.

"If we're using forests as a climate mitigation tool, we have to know what we're getting," said Kristofer Covey, a Ph.D. candidate who worked on the study. "Carbon offsets could be changed somewhat by this."

To be sure, the new findings don't negate the beneficial aspects of trees, which absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. But it may give foresters some pause in thinking about what mix of age and species of trees is ideal for the environment.

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