Scientists map potential for natural forest regrowth to capture carbon

A major new study that maps potential above ground carbon accumulation rates for forest regrowth across the globe has been published in the journal Nature.

Researchers from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO joined scientists from 17 other countries to publish a first of its kind, ‘wall-to-wall’ global, 1km resolution map that highlights areas with the greatest carbon returns, when they are allowed to reforest naturally.

Report co-author and CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Dr Stephen Roxburgh said the report, led by The Nature Conservancy, highlighted the role of natural forest regrowth and refines previous international estimates,

Dr Roxburgh said CSIRO supported the study through the supply of datasets, including 72 stands of natural regeneration that CSIRO had surveyed for biomass carbon.

“The datasets were collected for the Australian Government’s national greenhouse gas accounting program,” Dr Roxburgh said.

“The datasets were also used to better understand the carbon storage potential from restoring degraded woody vegetation.

“The global study complemented recent Australian work on carbon accumulation rates for planted and naturally regenerating stands of woody biomass across Australia.”

Human induced natural regeneration of woody vegetation is a substantial contributor to carbon storage activities being carried out under Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund.

Dr Roxburgh said the study found climate, rather than past land use, was the most important driver of potential carbon accumulation, with the work providing an important benchmark to assess the global potential of forest regrowth as a climate mitigation strategy.

The project was jointly funded by CSIRO and the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program.

The report is available at Mapping potential carbon capture from global natural forest regrowth and further comment available from The Nature Conservancy [docx · 1mb]

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