Forest landscape restoration (FLR) has been adopted by governments and practitioners across the globe to mitigate and adapt to climate change and restore ecological functions across degraded landscapes. However, the extent to which these activities capture CO2 with associated climate mitigation impacts are poorly known, especially in geographies where data on biomass growth of restored forests are limited or do not exist. To fill this gap, we developed biomass accumulation rates for a set of FLR activities (natural regeneration, planted forests and woodlots, agroforestry, and mangrove restoration) across the globe and global CO2 removal rates with corresponding confidence intervals, grouped by FLR activity and region/climate.
Planted forests and woodlots were found to have the highest CO2 removal rates, ranging from 4.5 to 40.7 t CO2 ha−1 year−1 during the first 20 years of growth. Mangrove tree restoration was the second most efficient FLR at removing CO2, with growth rates up to 23.1 t CO2 ha−1 year−1 the first 20 years post restoration. Natural regeneration removal rates were 9.1–18.8 t CO2 ha−1 year−1 during the first 20 years of forest regeneration, followed by agroforestry, the FLR category with the lowest and regionally broad removal rates (10.8–15.6 t CO2 ha−1 year−1). Biomass growth data was most abundant and widely distributed across the world for planted forests and natural regeneration, representing 45% and 32% of all the data points assessed, respectively. Agroforestry studies, were only found in Africa, Asia, and the Latin America and Caribbean regions.
This study represents the most comprehensive review of published literature on tree growth and CO2 removals to date, which we operationalized by constructing removal rates for specific FLR activities across the globe. These rates can easily be applied by practitioners and decision-makers seeking to better understand the positive climate mitigation impacts of existing or planned FLR actions, or by countries making restoration pledges under the Bonn Challenge Commitments or fulfilling Nationally Determined Contributions to the UNFCCC, thereby helping boost FLR efforts world-wide.
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