Studio News

#5 Tropical Forest Restoration


In recent decades, tropical forests - those located within 23.5 degrees north or south of the equator - have suffered extensive clearing, fragmentation, degradation and depletion of flora and fauna. Once blanketing 12 percent of the worlds land masses, they now cover just 5 percent. In many places the destruction continues. However, restoration both passive and intentional is now a growing trend. According to a 2011 study measuring the global carbon sink that forests represent, the tropics have the world’s largest forest area, the most contemporary land use change and the highest carbon uptake, but also the greatest uncertainty. Yet even as deforestation persists the regrowth of tropical forests sequesters Asia much as 6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year. That is equivalent to 11 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide or all those emanating from the United States.

When we lose forests primarily to agricultural expansion or human settlement carbon dioxide discharges into the atmosphere. Tropical forest loss alone is responsible for 16-19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity...

According to the world resources institute, 30 percent of the world’s forestland has been cleared completely. Another 20 percent has been degraded. More than 2 billion hectares (4.9 billion acres) worldwide offer opportunities for restoration - an area larger than South America...

In a median time of 66 years tropical forests can recover 90 percent of the biomass that old growth landscape contain...



In theory 751 million acres of degraded land in the tropics could be restored to continuous intact forest. Using current and estimated commitments from the Bonn Challenge and New York declaration on forests, our model assumes that restoration could occur on 435 million acres. Through natural regrowth, committed land could sequester 1.4 tonnes of carbon per acre annually, for a total of 61.2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050.


“Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming”, pp. 114-116.