Global Forests Management for Climate Change Mitigation

  • David A.N. UssiriEmail author
  • Rattan Lal


Forests are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem occupying approximately 30% of the Earth total land area. They play an important role in the global carbon (C) cycle, and the mitigation of CO2 emission due to its large storage of soil organic C (SOC), a large part of which is stored in soils. Due to their dominance, forests management has gained much interest in science and policy discussions as one of the important options to mitigate climate change. Global forests are increasingly affected by land use change , fragmentation, changing management objectives and degradation. The area under global forests has declined by 3% from 1990 to 2015, but the area of planted forest has increased in all regions of the world and now accounts for nearly 7% of global forest land estimated at 3999 million hectares (Mha). The area of primary forests which is typically defined as lacking direct human influence, is about 34% of the total forest land, based on country reports, but this area is declining, especially in South America and Africa because of human-caused fragmentation and degradation. About 5% of global forests are plantations generally used for commercial purposes. Globally, timber production has remained stable since 1990, but forest used for non-wood forest products indicates that harvesting is taking place on a smaller proportion of total forest area. Based on trends in the area of managed forest and regional studies, historical and current forest management has been a significant determinant of current carbon stocks in forest. The established forest currently offset 30% of global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, and there are mitigation opportunities involving forests that could increase the gross terrestrial C uptake from about 4.0 to 6.2 Pg C annually. Diversifying use of forest land may have significant consequences for maintaining or increasing the current rate of terrestrial C sequestration. Indirect human influences such as increasing atmospheric CO2 and climate change, along with the direct effects of land management and projected increasing demand for wood biofuel, are likely to become increasingly important elements that influence land management strategies and the role of forests in the global C cycle and future climate mitigation.


Forest resources Deforestation Afforestation Land use change Sustainable forest management Primary forest Gross primary productivity Net primary productivity 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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