Integrated global assessment of the natural forest carbon potential

Mo, L., Zohner, C., Reich, P., Liang, J., de Miguel, S., Nabuurs, G., Renner, S., van den Hoogen, J., et al. (2023). Integrated global assessment of the natural forest carbon potential. Nature 624 (7990) 92-101. 10.1038/s41586-023-06723-z.

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Forests are a substantial terrestrial carbon sink, but anthropogenic changes in land use and climate have considerably reduced the scale of this system1. Remote-sensing estimates to quantify carbon losses from global forests2–5 are characterized by considerable uncertainty and we lack a comprehensive ground-sourced evaluation to benchmark these estimates. Here we combine several ground-sourced6 and satellite-derived approaches2,7,8 to evaluate the scale of the global forest carbon potential outside agricultural and urban lands. Despite regional variation, the predictions demonstrated remarkable consistency at a global scale, with only a 12% difference between the ground-sourced and satellite-derived estimates. At present, global forest carbon storage is markedly under the natural potential, with a total deficit of 226 Gt (model range = 151–363 Gt) in areas with low human footprint. Most (61%, 139 Gt C) of this potential is in areas with existing forests, in which ecosystem protection can allow forests to recover to maturity. The remaining 39% (87 Gt C) of potential lies in regions in which forests have been removed or fragmented. Although forests cannot be a substitute for emissions reductions, our results support the idea2,3,9 that the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of diverse forests offer valuable contributions to meeting global climate and biodiversity targets.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability (NODES)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Agriculture, Forestry, and Ecosystem Services (AFE)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2023 11:13
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2024 10:38

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