Rethinking global carbon storage potential of trees. A comment on Bastin et al.(2019)


Bastin et al. 2019 use two flawed assumptions: 1) that the area suitable for restoration does not contain any carbon currently, and 2) that soil organic carbon (SOC) from increased canopy cover will accumulate quickly enough to mitigate anthropogenic carbon emissions. We re-evaluated the potential carbon storage worldwide using empirical relationships of tree cover and carbon. We use global datasets of tree cover, soil organic carbon, and above ground biomass to estimate the empirical relationships of tree cover and carbon stock storage. A more realistic range of global carbon storage potential is between 71.7 and 75.7 GtC globally, with a large uncertainty associated with SOC. This is less than half of the original 205 GtC estimate. The potential global carbon storage of restored forests is much less than that estimated by Bastin et al. 2019.

Annals of Forest Science