Research Press Release

Environment: Costs of forest-management activities to mitigate climate change estimated

Nature Communications

December 2, 2020

Forest management activities could help to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide by up to 6 gigatonnes (6,000 million tonnes) per year by 2055 at a cost of US $393 billion per year, suggests a modelling study published in Nature Communications.

It is understood that forests are critical to help stabilize our climate and have the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the associated costs of managing this process are uncertain.

Kemen Austin and colleagues investigated the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet the 1.5 °C target via forestry activities using an economic model of the global forest sector. The authors projected the mitigation potential and costs for four activities across sixteen regions: avoiding deforestation, forest management activities, increasing harvest rotations, and afforestation/ reforestation. They estimate that as much as 6 gigatonnes of CO2 per year could be sequestered by forests by 2055 at a cost of up to US $393 billion per year. The avoidance of deforestation in the tropics would have the largest impact on this scenario, and would be responsible for 30–54% of the total in mitigation. The authors project that afforestation/ reforestation could sequester up to 2.6 gigatonnes of the total per year by 2055.

The findings confirm that the global forest sector could play a critical role in achieving cost-effective global climate change mitigation, they conclude.

doi:10.1038/s41467-020-19578-z

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