Forests are crucial for global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change. As the global community works out what to prioritize in this quest against catastrophe, figuring out which forests are gaining and losing carbon – and why – is an important piece of the puzzle.
Until now, however, data on carbon gains and losses in global forests has been piecemeal and variable, and that has serious implications for land-use decision making – from local to international scales. “I think a lot of the decisions that are taken within the [U.N.] Paris Agreement [on climate change] depend on incomplete data sets, because they come from national greenhouse-gas inventories, which are frequently incomplete,” said Rosa Roman-Cuesta, an associate researcher at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in an interview. “Many countries do not report all their forest activities nor all their carbon pools. This leads to an inconsistency between what countries report and what global modeling and atmospheric observation offer – It is our role as scientists to help to bridge this gap towards the UNFCCC global stocktake in 2023.”