Generating new knowledge on carbon stocks in managed tropical forests
While little is known about the effect of timber extraction on carbon stocks and timber recovery in tropical forests, this knowledge is vital for the efficient sustainable management of these forests. In 2015, our Collaboration Fund supported a research project that looks to generate this much needed new knowledge.
Tropical forests provide a myriad of products and services which benefit people and the planet. As reservoirs of biodiversity, water, habitat and clean air, their continued existence on the plant is vital to maintaining ecological systems and cultural diversity, alike. However, forest degradation and deforestation is estimated to contribute approximately 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Utilizing tropical forests in a sustainable manner is one approach to reinforcing the intrinsic value of tropical forests while providing an income for the forest owners that can challenge economic motivations to clear forests for other lucrative land uses.
Given the significant role that these forests play as both a carbon stock for climate change mitigation and an important resource for income generation, there is a clear need to find a balance between these two differing roles. While sustainable forest management is well placed to address this issue, there remains a lack of knowledge and concrete data to define management practices that will ensure both the long-term provision of timber and maintenance of high carbon stocks.
PEFC and Carbon Stocks
In response, the 2015 PEFC Collaboration Fund is supported a CIRAD led project to generate new knowledge on the long-term impacts of timber extraction on both carbon stocks and timber recovery in the humid tropics.
Focusing on the Guiana Shield, including Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and northern Brazil, the project partners undertook detailed research and analysis into the effects of timber extraction on carbon stocks and timber recovery times.
By the end of the project, practical guidelines will be developed to optimize the allowable cut while ensuring the maintenance of key environmental services, such as carbon sequestration, toward forest-based climate change mitigation interventions.
The results from the project may also feed in to the national sustainable forest management standards in the region, such as the PEFC-endorsed Brazilian CERFLOR system, fostering the relevancy of these standards towards the sustainable management of natural tropical forests.
This project is part of the Tropical managed Forests Observatory (TmFO), a larger international initiative coordinated by CIRAD and CGIAR’s Forest Tree and Agroforestry research program. TmFO’s main goal is to shed light on the manifold services played by managed forests in the tropics. It notably addresses the long-term sustainability of timber production, carbon sequestration, maintenance of biodiversity and protective landscape functions in managed tropical forests.