Potential Biodiversity Benefits from International Programs to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Deforestation
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- Siikamäki, J. & Newbold, S.C. Ambio (2012) 41: 78. doi:10.1007/s13280-011-0243-4
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Deforestation is the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide emissions and options for its reduction are integral to climate policy. In addition to providing potentially low cost and near-term options for reducing global carbon emissions, reducing deforestation also could support biodiversity conservation. However, current understanding of the potential benefits to biodiversity from forest carbon offset programs is limited. We compile spatial data on global forest carbon, biodiversity, deforestation rates, and the opportunity cost of land to examine biodiversity conservation benefits from an international program to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation. Our results indicate limited geographic overlap between the least-cost areas for retaining forest carbon and protecting biodiversity. Therefore, carbon-focused policies will likely generate substantially lower benefits to biodiversity than a more biodiversity-focused policy could achieve. These results highlight the need to systematically consider co-benefits, such as biodiversity in the design and implementation of forest conservation programs to support international climate policy.