Forests have a very important role to play in global climate change mitigation. They act as carbon sinks while wood products offer alternatives to more carbon intensive materials and fuels. Forest Research reviewed previous studies that provide estimates for forestry-based mitigation options and highlights where further research is required in the future. Cost-effectiveness estimates are an important part of the evidence base needed to help the UK Government minimise the costs of meeting climate change mitigation targets.
Key findings and recommendations
- Methodological inconsistency and a lack of transparency hampers direct comparisons of estimates made by previous studies
- Forestry options are generally cost-effective compared to many other alternatives, as judged by current UK benchmarks
- Forestry options are critical – based on their relative cost-effectiveness, the significance of emissions from global deforestation, and the imperative to cut carbon emissions to limit the global average temperature rise in line with international commitments
- Incentives are weak for forest owners to implement mitigation activities – additional mechanisms, including payment for ecosystem service schemes, are needed
- More research is required – especially on the effects of afforestation on soil carbon balance, greenhouse gas balances for forest stands, carbon stock changes through a stand’s life cycle, the benefits of carbon displacement, and biophysical effects such as albedo and evapotranspiration
- For more information, see our video on the Low Carbon Summit - Incentives for Climate Change Mitigation by the Forest Sector - a UK perspective (Vimeo)
- Forestry Commission Research Note - Comparing the cost effectiveness of forestry options for climate change mitigation
- Research summary, detailed findings and recommendations
- Book chapter - How cost-effective is forestry for climate change mitigation?
The project was completed in 2019.