prof. dr. ir. Verbeek Hans
Lianas absorb less greenhouse gas than ordinary broad-leaved trees, and, due to their parasitic nature, they may be devastating for the mitigating effects of rainforests.
Over the past 30 years, we've witnessed a real increase of lianas in the Amazon rainforest. Lianas don't have to rely on a stem such as wood to support themselves. Instead they grow along trees to reach above the canopy. Because they don't have to invest in hard structure, these lianas can grow and spread much more quickly than trees. They are structural parasites, we don't call them the ivy of the rainforest for nothing. The fact that lianas use their build-up of biomass for short-lived leaves rather than long-lived hardwood means that the CO2 is released back to the atmosphere much sooner through the falling of the leaves. We are developing the rainforest's first vegetation model that takes lianas into account. This model will help us simulate the influence of lianas on the sink capacity of rainforests. Forests absorb a quarter of the annual global CO2 emissions. We want to know if that number still holds if lianas are taken into account.