Tropical forests to mitigate climate change

03 Feb 2015 NUS scientists rank tropical countries according to the net carbon containment and sequestration services provided by their tropical forests.

A team led by Prof L. Roman CARRASCO from the Department of Biological Sciences in NUS compared and ranked tropical countries' contributions to climate change mitigation by estimating carbon sequestration services vs. emissions disservices. The annual value of tropical carbon sequestration services in 2010 from 88 tropical countries was estimated to range from USD$2.8 to $30.7 billion, using market and social prices of carbon respectively. Countries with low deforestation rates and high reforestation levels such as Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Sudan contribute the highest net carbon sequestration. By contrast, countries with high deforestation rates like Brazil, Nigeria and Indonesia are the highest net emitters despite the carbon sequestration services provided by their large remaining forest areas.

Deforestation in tropical regions causes 15% of global anthropogenic carbon emissions contributing to climate change and reducing the mitigation potential of carbon sequestration services by those forests (see Figure). The value of many ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and containment provided by forests is not recognized by the markets.

Identifying the contribution of individual countries to tropical carbon stocks and sequestration might help identify responsibilities and facilitate debate towards recognizing the value of the carbon services by forests through international payments for ecosystem services such as the UN-REDD program (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).


The figure shows the logging of secondary forest in Malaysian Borneo contributes to carbon emissions and prevents carbon containment and sequestration services (Image credit: LR Carrasco)



LR Carrasco, SK Papworth. “A ranking of net national contributions to climate change mitigation through tropical forest conservation.” Journal of Environmental Management. 146 (2014) 575.