Restoring forests to mitigate climate change

Forests contribute to climate change mitigation in important ways. They present a low-cost, nature-based solution for carbon sequestration. Mature forests reach a maximum storage capacity when growth and decay balance out, and the effect on atmospheric carbon becomes neutral. Secondary forests are growing forests and hence store additional carbon in biomass as they grow.

FCCF protects areas of secondary and degraded forest from deforestation for alternative land use and facilitates the absorption and long-term storage of carbon. This potential can be enhanced by strong forest management practices. Further controlled regrowth of secondary forests represents an excellent opportunity to absorb carbon dioxide for the mitigation of climate change.

Quantifying the sequestration potential of SDF

A study (Chazdon et al.) published in 2016 in Science Magazine quantifies the impact of natural regrowth of secondary forests in Latin America at 8.5 Pg C in above ground biomass over forty years. This impact is equivalent to the carbon emissions and fossil fuel use and industrial processes in all of Latin America and the Caribbean from 1993 to 2014.

At the same time, data shows that young secondary forests, despite their potential to contribute to the mitigation of climate change, are deforested at rates significantly higher than old growth forests. In Costa Rica, for example, a 10 year old forest is subject to a 5 fold higher risk of deforestation compared to a 25 year-old forest.

Measuring carbon sequestration

FCCF systematically measures the carbon sequestered in projects which it finances. The Fund’s carbon accounting methodology was developed by our partner Unique land use, based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodologies, as well as project specific recommendations and methodologies from the Verified Carbon Standards (VCS).

Carbon sequestration occurs on three levels:

  • Avoiding deforestation – projects protecting forests from land use changes

  • Carbon stock enhancements -through improved forest management practices ;

  • Substitution effect – through the use of harvested wood products. This substitution effect occurs because wood-based products are (1) a physical pool of carbon, (2) a substitute for more energy-intensive materials and (3) raw material to generate energy (IPCC, 2001).