Climatic Change

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 267–293

The carbon-sequestration potential of a global afforestation program

  • Sten Nilsson
  • Wolfgang Schopfhauser
Article

Abstract

We analyzed the changes in the carbon cycle that could be achieved with a global, largescale afforestation program that is economically, politically, and technically feasible. We estimated that of the areas regarded as suitable for large-scale plantations, only about 345 million ha would actually be available for plantations and agroforestry for the sole purpose of sequestering carbon. The maximum annual rate of carbon fixation (1.48 Gt/yr) would only be achieved 60 years after the establishment of the plantations - 1.14 Gt by above-ground biomass and 0.34 Gt by below-ground biomass. Over the period from 1995 to 2095, a total of 104 Gt of carbon would be sequestered. This is substantially lower than the amount of carbon required to offset current carbon emissions (3.8 Gt/yr) in order to stabilize the carbon content of the atmosphere.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ahamer, G.: 1993 ‘The Influence of an Enhanced Use of Biomass for Energy on the CO2-Concentration in the Atmosphere’, Executive summary of a doctoral thesis, Graz University of Technology, Austria.Google Scholar
  2. Alcamo, J. (ed.): 1994IMAGE 2.0: Integrated Modeling of Global Climate Change, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  3. Alexander, M.: 1985Introduction to Soil Microbiology, J. Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  4. Allan, T. and Lanly, J. P.: 1990 ‘Overview of Status and Trends of World's Forests’, in Howlett, D. and Sargent, C. (eds.),Proceedings of the Technical Workshop to Explore Options for Global Forestry Management, 24–30 April 1991, Bangkok, Thailand, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, U.K.Google Scholar
  5. Andrasko, K.: 1990Climate Change and Global Forests: Current Knowledge of Potential Effects, Adaption and Mitigation Options. Forestry Department FO:MISC/90/7. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.Google Scholar
  6. Andrasko, K., Heaton, K. and Winnett, S.: 1991 ‘Evaluating the Costs and Efficiency of Options to Manage Global Forests: A Cost Curve Approach’, in Howlett, D. and Sargent, C. (eds.),Proceedings of the Technical Workshop to Explore Options for Global Forestry Management, 24–30 April, at Bangkok, Thailand, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, U.K.Google Scholar
  7. Armson, K. A.: 1977Forest Soils. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.Google Scholar
  8. Bauer, H.: 1989Nährstoffvorräte von Fichtenbeständen auf einer Standortseinheit im Kobenauserwald untersucht über die Altersklassen, Diplomarbeit am Institut für Forstökologie, Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien.Google Scholar
  9. Birdsey, R. A.: 1990Inventory of Carbon Storage and Accumulation in US Forest Ecosystems, Paper presented at XIX IUFRO World Congress, August 1990, at Montreal, Canada.Google Scholar
  10. Bormann, F. H. and Likens G. E.: 1979Pattern and Processes in a Forested Ecosystem, Springer New York, NY, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  11. Botkin, D. B. and Simpson, L. G.: 1990 ‘Biomass of the North American Boreal Forests’,Biogeochemistry 9(2), 161–174.Google Scholar
  12. Bouwman, A. F. (ed.: 1990Soils and the Greenhouse Effect, J. Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  13. Brown, S., Lugo, A. E. and Chapmen, J.: 1986 ‘Biomass of Tropical Tree Plantations and Its Implications for the Global Carbon Budget’,Canad. J. Forest Res. 16(2), 390–394.Google Scholar
  14. Brown, S., Gillespie, A. J. R. and Lugo, A. E.: 1989 ‘Biomass Estimation Methods for Tropical Forests with Applications to Forest Inventory Data’,Forest Sci. 35(4), 881–902.Google Scholar
  15. Brown S., Hall, C. A. S., Knabe, W., Raich, J., Treckler, M. C. and Woomer, P.: 1993, ‘Tropical Forests: Their Past, Present, and Potential Future Role in the Terrestrial Carbon Budget’,Water, Air Soil Poll. 70(1-4), 71–94.Google Scholar
  16. Centeno, J. C.: 1992The Need to Reforest the Tropics, Merida, Venezuela.Google Scholar
  17. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress: 1989Agriculture, Forestry and Global Climate Change: A Reader, U.S.A Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  18. Cooper, C. F.: 1983 ‘Carbon Storage in Managed Forests’,Canad. J. Forest Res. 13(1), 155–166.Google Scholar
  19. Detwiler, R. P.: 1986 ‘Land Use Change and the Global Carbon Cycle: The Role of tropical soils’,Biochemistry 2(1), 67–93.Google Scholar
  20. Detwiler, R. P. and Hall, A. S.: 1988 ‘Tropical Forests and the Global Carbon Cycle’,Science 239(4835), 42–47.Google Scholar
  21. Detwiler, R. P., Hall, C. A. S. and Bogdonoff, P.: 1985 ‘Land Use Change and Carbon Exchange in the Tropics II: Estimates for the Entire Region’,Environm. Managem. 9(4), 335–344.Google Scholar
  22. Dixon, R. K., Schroeder P. E. and Winjum, J. K. (eds.): 1991aAssessment of Promising Forest Management Practices and Technologies for Enhancing the Conservation and Sequestration of Atmospheric Carbon and their Costs at the Site Level, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  23. Dixon, R. K., Winjum, J. K. and Krankina, O. N.: 1991b ‘Afforestation and Forest Management Options and their Costs at the Site Level’ in Howlett, D. and Sargent, C. (eds.),Proceedings of the Technical Workshop to Explore Options for Global Forestry Management, 24–30 April, at Bangkok, Thailand, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, U.K.Google Scholar
  24. Dixon, R. K., Brown S., Houghton, R. A., Solomon, A. M., Trexler, M. C. and Wisniewski, J.: 1994 ‘Carbon Pools and Flux of Global Forest Ecosystems’,Science 263(5144), 185–190.Google Scholar
  25. Dudek, D. J. and Le Blanc, A.: 1990 ‘Offsetting New CO2 Emissions: A Rational First Greenhouse Policy Step’,Contemp. Policy Iss. 8(3), 29–42.Google Scholar
  26. Eckersley, R.: 1989Regreening Australia: The Environmental, Economic and Social Benefits of Reforestation, Occasional Paper 3, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  27. FAO: 1991aFAO Yearbook 1989: Forest Products, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy.Google Scholar
  28. FAO: 1991b ‘Climate Change and Global Forests: Current Knowledge of Potential Effects, Adaptation and Mitigation’, in Howlett, D. and Sargent, C. (eds.),Proceedings of the Technical Workshop to Explore Options for Global Forestry Management, 24–30 April, at Bangkok, Thailand, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, U.K.Google Scholar
  29. Farnum, P., Timmis, R., and Kulp, J.: 1983 ‘Biotechnology of Forest Yield’,Science 219(4585), 694–702.Google Scholar
  30. Forestry Canada: 1990Selected Forestry Statistics 1990, Information Report E-X-44. Economics and Statistics Directorate, Forestry Canada, Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
  31. Frankena, F.: 1987 ‘Rethinking the Scale of Biomass Energy Conversion Facilities: The Case of Wood-Electric Power’,Biomass 14(3), 149–71.Google Scholar
  32. Grainger, A.: 1988 ‘Estimating Areas of Degraded Tropical Lands Requiring Replenishment of Forest Cover’,Internat. Tree Crops J. 5(1/2), 31–61.Google Scholar
  33. Grainger, A.: 1991 ‘Constraints on Increasing Tropical Forest Area to Combat Global Climate Change’, in Howlett, D. and Sargent, C. (eds.),Proceedings of the Technical Workshop to Explore Options for Global Forestry Management, 24–30 April, at Bangkok, Thailand, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, U.K.Google Scholar
  34. Hagler, R. W.: 1992 Personal Communication on the Industrial Forest Area of Argentina and Chile, 16 September.Google Scholar
  35. Hall, D. O., Mynick, H. E., and Williams, R. H.: 1990Carbon Sequestration versus Fossil Fuel Subscription: Alternative Roles for Biomass in Coping with Greenhouse Warming, PUICEES Report No. 255, Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  36. Hall, D. O., Myknick, H. E. and Williams, R. H.: 1991 ‘Cooling the Greenhouse with Bioenergy’,Nature 353(6339), 11–12.Google Scholar
  37. Harmon, M. E., Ferrell, W. K. and Franklin, J. F.: 1990 ‘Effects on Carbon Storage of Conversion of Old-Growth Forests to Young Forests’,Science 247(4943), 699–702.Google Scholar
  38. Hasenkamp, K. P.: 1992 ‘Global Reforestation to Solve the Problem of CO2: Or Mankind Will Be Burning the Wrong Tree until It Finds the Right One’,Yearbook of Renewable Energies, vol. I. Ponte Press, Bochum, Germany.Google Scholar
  39. Holt, J. A. and Spain, A. V.: 1986 ‘Some Biological and Chemical Changes in a North Queensland Soil Following Replacement of Rainforest withAraucaria Cunninghammii’,J. Appl. Ecol. 23(1), 227–237.Google Scholar
  40. Houghton, R. A.: 1991 ‘Tropical Deforestation and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide’,Clim. Change 19(1/2), 99–118.Google Scholar
  41. Houghton, R. A., Hobbie, J. E., Melillo, J. M., Moore, B., Peterson, B. J., Shaver, G. R. and Woodwell, G. M.: 1983 ‘Changes in the Carbon Content of Terrestrial Biota and Soils Between 1860 and 1980: A Net Release of CO2 to the Atmosphere’,Ecol. Monogr. 53(3), 235–62.Google Scholar
  42. Houghton, R. A., Unruh, J. and Lefebvre, P. A.: 1991 ‘Current Land Use in the Tropics and Its Potential for Sequestering Carbon’, in Howlett, D. and Sargent, C. (eds.),Proceedings of the Technical Workshop to Explore Options for Global Forestry Management, 24–30 April, at Bangkok, Thailand, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, U.K.Google Scholar
  43. Johnson, D. W.: 1992Effects of Forest Management on Soil Carbon Storage, National Council of the Paper Industry for Air and Stream Improvement, Technical Bulletin No. 628, New York, NY, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  44. Jonson, T. and Modin A.: 1932 ‘In Riksskogstaxeringsnämnden’. Uppskattning av Sveriges Skogstillgångar verkställd åren 1923-1929, Statens Offentliga Utredningar. Stockholm, Sweden.Google Scholar
  45. Kohlmaier, G. H., Würth, G., Häger, C. and, Kindermann, J.: ‘1992 Management of the World's Forests as a Global Carbon Dioxide Sink’, Report on a presentation, Institut für Physikalische und Theoretische Chemie, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.Google Scholar
  46. Kolchugina, T. P. and Vinson T. S.: 1993a ‘Equilibrium Analysis of Carbon Pools and Fluxes of Forest Biomes in the Former Soviet Union’,Canad. J. Forest Res.,23(1), 81–88.Google Scholar
  47. Kolchugina, T. P. and Vinson T. S.: 1993b ‘Carbon Sources and Sinks in Forest Biomes of the Former Soviet Union’,Global Biochemical Cycles 7(2), 291–309.Google Scholar
  48. Kolchugina, T. P. and Vinson T. S.: 1993c ‘Comparison of Two Methods to Assess the Carbon Budget of Forest Biomes in the Former Soviet Union’,Water, Air Soil Poll. 70(1-4), 207–221.Google Scholar
  49. Körner, C.: 1989Bedeutung der Wälder im Naturhaushalt einer vom Menschen veränderten Welt, Sonderdruck aus Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Humanökologie, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien.Google Scholar
  50. Körner, C.: 1991Wirkung von Kohlendioxid auf die Vegetation, Bericht über das Jahr 1989/90, Universität Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  51. Körner, C.: 1992 ‘Responses to Elevated Carbon Dioxide in Artificial Tropical Ecosystems’,Science 257(5077), 1672–1675.Google Scholar
  52. Lanly, J.P., Singh K. and Janz K.: 1991 ‘FAO's 1990 Reassessment of Tropical Forest Cover’,Nature Resourc. 27(2), 21–26.Google Scholar
  53. Row, C.: 1990Tracing the Flow of Carbon through the US Forest Product Sector, Paper presented at the International Union of Forest Research Organizations: IUFRO 19th World Congress, August, at Montreal, Canada.Google Scholar
  54. Row, C. and Phelps, R. B.: 1990Determining the Flows and Deposition of Carbon in Timber Harvests and in Wood-in-Use, American Forestry Association, Washington, DC, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  55. Russell, J.: 1990 ‘Plantation Forestry and the Australian Landscape’, in Dargavel, J. and Semple, N. (eds.)Prospects for Australian Forest Plantations, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  56. Sampson R.N.: 1992 ‘Forestry Opportunities in the United States to Mitigate the Effects of Global Warming’,Water, Air Poll. 64(1/2), 157–180.Google Scholar
  57. Schimel, D. S., Coleman, D. C., and Horton, K. A.: 1985 ‘Soil Organic Matter Dynamics in Paired Rangeland and Cropland Toposequences in North Dakota’,Geoderma 36(3/4), 201–214.Google Scholar
  58. Sedjo, R. A.: 1983The Comparative Economics of Plantation Forestry: A Global Assessment. Resources for the Future/Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  59. Sedjo, R. A.: 1992 ‘Temperate Forest Ecosystems in the Global Carbon Cycle’,Ambio 21(4), 274–277.Google Scholar
  60. Sedjo, R. A. and Lyon, K. S.: 1990The Long-Term Adequacy of World Timber Supply, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  61. Sombroek, W. G., Nachtergaele F. O. and Hebel A.: 1993 ‘Amounts, Dynamics and Sequestering of Carbon in Tropical and Subropical Soils’,AMBIO 22(7), 417–426.Google Scholar
  62. South African Forest Owners' Association: 1991Forestry and Forest Products Industry Facts 1979/80 to 1989/90, Rivonia, South Africa.Google Scholar
  63. South African Forest Owners' Association: 1992Mean Annual Increment Survey: Results and Analysis, Rivonia, South Africa.Google Scholar
  64. Spears, J.: 1983 ‘Replenishing the World's Forests: Tropical Reforestation: An Achievable Goal?’Commonwealth Forestry Review 62(3), 201–217.Google Scholar
  65. Thompson, D. A. and Matthews, R. W.: 1989The Storage of Carbon in Trees and Timber, Research Report 160. Forest Research Station, Alice Holt, Surrey, U.K.Google Scholar
  66. Trexler, M. C.: 1991a ‘Estimating Tropical Biomass Futures: A Tentative Scenario’, in Howlett, D. and Sargent, C. (eds.),Proceedings of the Technical Workshop to Explore Options for Global Forestry Management, 24–30 April, at Bangkok, Thailand, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, U.K.Google Scholar
  67. Trexler, M. C.: 1991bMinding the Carbon Store: Weighing US Forestry Strategies to Slow Global Warming, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  68. Troensegaard, J.: 1989Summary of Cost Estimates of Afforestation, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.Google Scholar
  69. Turnbull, C. R. A., Traill, J. R. and Beadle, C. L.: 1989Productivity and Costs of Establishment of Eucalypt Plantations on Native Forest Sites in Southern Tasmania, IUFRO Symposium, September, Rotorua, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  70. Van Breemen, N. and Feijtel T. C. J.: 1990 ‘Soil Processes and Properties Involved in the Production of Greenhouse Gases, with Special Relevance to Soil Taxonomic Systems’, in Bouwman, A.F. (ed.),Soils and the Greenhouse Effect, J. Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  71. Van Kooten, G. C.: 1991Economic Issues Relating to Climate Change. Effects on Canada's Forests, Working Paper 151, Forestry and Economic Policy Analysis: FEPA Research Unit, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.Google Scholar
  72. Vitousek P. M. and Sanford R. L., Jr.: 1986 ‘Nutrient Cycling in Moist Tropical Forest’, inAnnual Rev. Ecol. Systemat. 17, 137–167.Google Scholar
  73. Volz, H.-A., Kriebitzch, W. U. and Schneider, T. W.: 1991 ‘Assessment of Potential, Feasibility and Costs of Forestry Options in the Temperate and Boreal Zones’, in Howlett, D. and Sargent, C. (eds.),Proceedings of the Technical Workshop to Explore Forestry Options for Global Forestry Management, 24–30 April, at Bangkok, Thailand, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, U.K.Google Scholar
  74. Waldstein, C.: 1992 ‘Sanierung der CO2-Bilanz durch Humusproduktion,Umweltschutz 4, 14.Google Scholar
  75. Waring, R. H. and Schlesinger, W. H.: 1985Forest Ecosystems. Concepts and Management, Academic Press, Orlando, FL, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  76. Whyte, I. N.: 1990 ‘APPM'S Tree-Farming Program: Past, Present and Future’, in Dargavel, J. and Semple, N. (eds.)Prospects for Australian Forest Plantations, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  77. Winjum, J. K., Dixon, R. K. and Schroeder, P. E.: 1992 ‘Estimating the Global Potential of Forest and Agroforest Management Practices to Sequester Carbon’,Water, Air Soil Poll. 64(1/2), 213–227.Google Scholar
  78. WRI: 1990World Resources 1990-91: A Guide to the Global Environment, World Resources Institute, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  79. Zobel, B. J., Van Wyk, G., and Stahl, P.: 1987Growing Exotic Forests, J. Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  80. Zuidema, G., von den Born, G. J., Alcamo, J., and Kreileman, G. J. J.: 1993 ‘Simulating Changes in Global Cover as Affected by Economic and Climatic Factors’,Water, Air Soil Poll. 76(1/2), 163–198.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sten Nilsson
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Schopfhauser
    • 1
  1. 1.International Institute for Applied Systems AnalysisLaxenburgAustria

Personalised recommendations