Washington, D.C. – May 16, 2019 – Winrock International scientists have published a landmark paper filling critical knowledge gaps in the climate change mitigation potential of forest landscape restoration. This globally comprehensive review of the potential carbon sequestration resulting from restoration is an important contribution to global efforts to combat climate change. The paper was published in Carbon Balance and Management and an accompanying online calculator has been developed to simplify measurement of the climate mitigation potential resulting from this practice.
“Our paper goes beyond anything currently available – both in geographical extent and in restoration categories considered – bringing in agroforestry and mangroves, alongside planted forests and naturally regenerated forests,” said lead author Blanca Bernal of Winrock International.
Funded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Winrock scientists used data from over 300 published papers to model tree growth for planted forests, natural regeneration, agroforestry and mangrove restoration around the world. These growth rates were converted into carbon dioxide removal rates, assigned to specific geographies and made publicly available in a database available on InfoFLr.org.
Governments, the private sector and NGOs around the world are harnessing the ability of trees to slow climate change by pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Yet forests remove carbon dioxide at different rates, depending on climate, management practices, soil conditions and a host of other factors.
The effect of forest landscape restoration activities on the climate has been the subject of considerable research over the past few decades. However, knowledge gaps continue to persist, and a lack of access to data has complicated the efforts of practitioners, especially in developing countries, to reliably estimate the impact of these activities.
“We believe the paper has the potential for an immediate positive impact for practitioners and decision-makers seeking to understand climate mitigation potential or make restoration pledges,” said Timothy Pearson, Winrock’s director of ecosystem services and an author of the paper. “It will also help countries better evaluate impacts of Bonn Challenge Commitments and progress toward Sustainable Development Goals.”
Now Winrock has made estimating the climate mitigation potential of forest landscape restoration activities even easier. A new online tool has been produced in which users need only to enter the location and total area of the restoration work to get an estimate of the carbon sequestration impact.
Unlike the existing reviews, tools and broad continental estimates of carbon sequestration of forests available from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the values offered in this publication cover a broad range of forest landscape restoration activities, including agroforestry and mangrove restoration. In addition to carbon removal rates, the paper includes estimates of uncertainty, an important detail which helps scientists and practitioners better understand the variability of data used to produce the estimate.