Potential for Tropical Forest Carbon Sequestration
This indicator represents the amount of carbon that could be sequestrated (i.e., prevented from entering the atmosphere as carbon dioxide) if deforestation were halted in tropical forests.
By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.
Higher values indicate that a greater amount of carbon (measured as CO2 equivalents/km2) per unit area could potentially be sequestrated if deforestation were halted in tropical forests.
This indicator is available at the basin, country and regional scales for all the tropical countries across the globe.
This indicator is available for the year 2000 as a baseline.
This indicator is derived from a combination of the forest carbon map produced by Avitabile et al. (2016) and the forest change data produced by Hansen et al. (2013). The forest carbon map (Avitabile et al., 2016) provides information for pan-tropical areas on total carbon stock in live above ground biomass at 1 km resolution. It used a data fusion approach to combine two prior datasets of vegetation aboveground biomass (Saatchi et al. 2011 and Baccini et al. 2012) that are both based on LiDAR as primary data source, and calibrated them using an independent reference dataset of field observations and locally calibrated high-resolution biomass maps. The forest change data provide information globally on forest extent and change from 2000 to 2014 using Landsat imagery at 30 meters spatial resolution.
For each analysis unit (basin, country, and region), we first calculated the tropical forest carbon stock density for the early 2000s (total biomass in MgC ha-1) based on the forest carbon map, and calculated the annual deforestation rates based on the global forest change data. Then we calculated the tropical forest carbon sequestration potential by multiplying carbon stock density by annual deforestation rates, and then multiplied by a conversion factor of 3.66 CO2 equivalents (Mg CO2/Mg C).
Values are reported both as a summed value for each assessment area (i.e., the total tropical forest carbon sequestration potential) and, to aid in area-independent comparisons, as a mean value, per square kilometer, for each assessment area. The latter is obtained by dividing the summed value by area in square kilometers.
It should be noted that the carbon biomass data set only covers the tropics, so for areas at the tropical boundary, the results only apply to the portion of the region, country, or basin occurring inside tropical region.
Note that this indicator provides an estimate of "potential" carbon sequestration when deforestation is completely halted, as a measure of the ecosystem service an area could contribute to climate change mitigation.
We assume that when the deforestation stopped, the amount of carbon sequestration potential is the same with the same area of existing forest. In reality, the carbon stored in the re-growing forest may be higher or lower, depending on the time frame considered.
Learn how the Potential of Carbon Sequestration indicator was applied in the process of assessing watersheds in the Tropical Andes and Amazon for effective conservation investment from NatureServe Conservation Tools.
The Topical Carbon maps can be downloaded from the Forest Biomass, Wageningen University & Research
Learn more about the carbon maps from the publication:
Avitabile V, Herold M, Heuvelink G, Lewis SL, Phillips OL, Asner GP et al. (2016). An integrated pan-tropical biomass maps using multiple reference datasets. Global Change Biology, 22: 1406–1420. doi:10.1111/gcb.13139.
Baccini A, Goetz SJ, Walker WS et al. (2012) Estimated carbon dioxide emissions from tropical deforestation improved by carbon-density maps. Nature Climate Change, 2,182–185.
Saatchi S.S., N. L. Harris, S. Brown, M. Lefsky, E. T. A. Mitchard, et al. 2011. "Benchmark map of forest carbon stocks in tropical regions across three continents." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 108(24), 9899-9904.
The Global Forest Change data can be downloaded from http://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science-2013-global-forest.
Learn more about the global forest change data from the publication:
Hansen, M. C., P. V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S. V. Stehman, S. J. Goetz, T. R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C. O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend. 2013. "High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change." Science 342 (15 November): 850-53.