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    Integrated global assessment of the natural forest carbon potential

    Mo, Lidong ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3805-7638, Zohner, Constantin M. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8302-4854, Reich, Peter B. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4424-662X, Liang, Jingjing ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9439-9320, de Miguel, Sergio ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9738-0657, Nabuurs, Gert-Jan ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9761-074X, Renner, Susanne S. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3704-0703, van den Hoogen, Johan, Araza, Arnan, Herold, Martin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0246-6886, Mirzagholi, Leila, Ma, Haozhi ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0709-1438, Averill, Colin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4035-7760, Phillips, Oliver L ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8993-6168, Gamarra, Javier G. P. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1290-9559, Hordijk, Iris, Routh, Devin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5910-8847, Abegg, Meinrad ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5151-5889, Adou Yao, Yves C. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9408-3497, Alberti, Giorgio ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2422-3009, Almeyda Zambrano, Angelica M., Alvarado, Braulio Vilchez, Alvarez-Dávila, Esteban, Alvarez-Loayza, Patricia, Alves, Luciana F. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8944-1851, Amaral, Iêda, Ammer, Christian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4235-0135, Antón-Fernández, Clara ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5545-3320, Araujo-Murakami, Alejandro, Arroyo, Luzmila, Avitabile, Valerio ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3646-052X, Aymard, Gerardo A. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9405-0508, Baker, Timothy R. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3251-1679, Bałazy, Radomir, Banki, Olaf ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6197-9951, Barroso, Jorcely G., Bastian, Meredith L. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0000-9115, Bastin, Jean-Francois ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2602-7247, Birigazzi, Luca, Birnbaum, Philippe ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4830-5500, Bitariho, Robert ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3461-0013, Boeckx, Pascal ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3998-0010, Bongers, Frans ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8431-6189, Bouriaud, Olivier ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8046-466X, Brancalion, Pedro H. S. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8245-4062, Brandl, Susanne, Brearley, Francis Q, Brienen, Roel ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5397-5755, Broadbent, Eben N., Bruelheide, Helge ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3135-0356, Bussotti, Filippo, Cazzolla Gatti, Roberto, César, Ricardo G., Cesljar, Goran, Chazdon, Robin L ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7349-5687, Chen, Han Y. H. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9477-5541, Chisholm, Chelsea ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7739-0508, Cho, Hyunkook, Cienciala, Emil ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1254-4254, Clark, Connie, Clark, David, Colletta, Gabriel D, Coomes, David A. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8261-2582, Cornejo Valverde, Fernando, Corral-Rivas, José J., Crim, Philip M. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5039-4306, Cumming, Jonathan R., Dayanandan, Selvadurai, de Gasper, André L. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1940-9581, Decuyper, Mathieu ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1713-8562, Derroire, Géraldine ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7239-2881, DeVries, Ben ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2136-3401, Djordjevic, Ilija, Dolezal, Jiri ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5829-4051, Dourdain, Aurélie, Engone Obiang, Nestor Laurier, Enquist, Brian J ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6124-7096, Eyre, Teresa J., Fandohan, Adandé Belarmain ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8426-6839, Fayle, Tom M., Feldpausch, Ted R, Ferreira, Leandro V, Finér, Leena, Fischer, Markus ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5589-5900, Fletcher, Christine, Frizzera, Lorenzo, Gianelle, Damiano ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7697-5793, Glick, Henry B., Harris, David J. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6801-2484, Hector, Andrew ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1309-7716, Hemp, Andreas ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5369-2122, Hengeveld, Geerten ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9592-3080, Hérault, Bruno ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6950-7286, Herbohn, John L., Hillers, Annika, Honorio Coronado, Eurídice N ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2314-590X, Hui, Cang ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3660-8160, Ibanez, Thomas, Imai, Nobuo, Jagodziński, Andrzej M. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6899-0985 and et al (2023) Integrated global assessment of the natural forest carbon potential. Nature, 624 (7990). pp. 92-101. ISSN 0028-0836

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    Abstract

    Forests are a substantial terrestrial carbon sink, but anthropogenic changes in land use and climate have considerably reduced the scale of this system 1. Remote-sensing estimates to quantify carbon losses from global forests 2–5 are characterized by considerable uncertainty and we lack a comprehensive ground-sourced evaluation to benchmark these estimates. Here we combine several ground-sourced 6 and satellite-derived approaches 2,7,8 to evaluate the scale of the global forest carbon potential outside agricultural and urban lands. Despite regional variation, the predictions demonstrated remarkable consistency at a global scale, with only a 12% difference between the ground-sourced and satellite-derived estimates. At present, global forest carbon storage is markedly under the natural potential, with a total deficit of 226 Gt (model range = 151–363 Gt) in areas with low human footprint. Most (61%, 139 Gt C) of this potential is in areas with existing forests, in which ecosystem protection can allow forests to recover to maturity. The remaining 39% (87 Gt C) of potential lies in regions in which forests have been removed or fragmented. Although forests cannot be a substitute for emissions reductions, our results support the idea 2,3,9 that the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of diverse forests offer valuable contributions to meeting global climate and biodiversity targets.

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