Protecting and restoring the global forest carbon stock

 

by Steffen Dehn

The IFSA delegation attended a side event that dealt with protecting and restoring the global forest carbon stock. The first panelist dealt with the topic in the European context. The panelist started off with the fact that currently, in the EU there is zero net forest cover loss. He went on highlight the importance of achieving negative emissions in Europe and how forest will play a significant role in achieving this goal. Germany increased its carbon stock by 10% over the period from 2002 to 2012.

While there is a lot of data available which enables Germany to create good projections which allow for better planning, it is still sometimes difficult as crucial information like soil information, dead wood pools and others are not collected. With these projections, it gets easier to understand trad offs of different scenarios like how a focus on carbon sequestration will affect biodiversity. He pointed out that while the EU doesn´t really have much of a plan on how to achieve that, the EU still tries to tell other countries how they should manage their forests and increase carbon stock.

It was mentioned that local people are often seen as a threat for the forest but it is often not taken into account that they could also be driver of sustainability and sustainable forest management. To meet the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement, deforestation has to be halted and carbon stock has to be increased.

One of the panelist elaborated the main points and goals of good restoration practice which were the following:

  • Increase carbon content
  • Promotes biodiversity
  • Respects local people’s rights
  • Promotes food security

Lars Laestadius from the swedish university of agricultural science had two questions over-arching his presentation which were straight forward:

Restore forest where and how?

To answer the where question, he presented a  map that showed the potential forest extend  if only climate and soils decided in contrast to the actual forest extent. He highlighted the need and opportunity to restore forest as well as constraints due to population and croplands. According to him, there are restoration opportunities all over the world, especially in Africa. The study he presented sees the biggest opportunity (74%) in mosaic restoration which means that the forest landscape will be a mix comprised of people, farmland and other land uses and not only forests.

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Source: http://www.bonnchallenge.org/content/global-opportunity-map

To answer the how question he first raised the point that in the past, there were large scale planting and restoration projects that didn´t go so well. He elaborated several points to show how future project could take into account errors from the past to build better futures.

His points were the following:

  • Focus on landscape -> think and plan in terms of large scale and long time and have a diverse set up within the mosaic.
  • Restore ecological functionality –> preserve and enhance ecosystem services
  • Allow for multiple benefits
  • Recognize that a suite of interventions are possible and needed
  • Involve stakeholders –> not command and control but have a two way dialogue to ensure equity
  • Tailor projects to local conditions
  • Manage adaptively
  • Avoid conversion of natural ecosystems

He strongly emphasized the point that in order for these projects to be successful, benefits and incentives for the local population are needed. These benefits could for example be:

  • Enhance food security
  • Prosperity increase
  • Clarify rights to land trees
  • Long term focus -> design landscapes and build resilience
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