Plant trees for the planet: The potential of forests for climate change mitigation and the major drivers of national forest area

Mader, Sebastian (2019). Plant trees for the planet: The potential of forests for climate change mitigation and the major drivers of national forest area. Mitigation and adaptation strategies for global change Springer 10.1007/s11027-019-09875-4

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Forests are one of the most cost-effective ways to sequester carbon today. Here, I estimate the world’s land share under forests required to prevent dangerous climate change. For this, I combine newest longitudinal data of FLUXNET on forests’ net ecosystem exchange of carbon (NEE) from 78 forest sites (N=607) with countries’ mean temperature and forest area. This straightforward approach indicates that the world’s forests sequester 8.3 GtCO2yr-1. For the 2 °C climate target the current forest land share has to be doubled to 60.0 % to sequester an additional 7.8 GtCO2yr-1, which demands less red meat consumption. This afforestation/reforestation (AR) challenge is achievable, as the estimated global biophysical potential of AR is 8.0 GtCO2yr-1 safeguarding food supply for 10 billion people. Climate-responsible countries have the highest AR potential. For effective climate policies, knowledge on the major drivers of forest area is crucial. Enhancing information here, I analyse forest land share data of 98 countries from 1990 to 2015 applying causal inference (N=2,494). The results highlight that population growth, industrialization, and increasing temperature reduce forest land share, while more protected forest and economic growth generally increase it. In all, this study confirms the potential of AR for climate change mitigation with a straightforward approach based on the direct measurement of NEE. This might provide a more valid picture given the shortcomings of indirect carbon stock-based inventories. The analysis identifies future regional hotspots for the AR potential and informs the need for fast and forceful action to prevent dangerous climate change.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology
03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Mader, Sebastian

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
500 Science

ISSN:

1381-2386

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Sebastian Mader

Date Deposited:

08 Aug 2019 08:34

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 01:53

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s11027-019-09875-4

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.131529

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/131529

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