Journal publications

Current Biology paper: Broadening the focus of forest conservation beyond carbon

A paper authored by Zuzana Buřivalová, Natalie Yoh, H.S. Sathya Chandra Sagar, Edward T. Game, and myself was published today in Current Biology.

Titled, Broadening the focus of forest conservation beyond carbon, the paper is a review of recent trends in forest conservation, with a focus on the tropics.

Here’s the summary of the paper:

Two concurrent trends are contributing towards a much broader view of forest conservation. First, the appreciation of the role of forests as a nature-based climate solution has grown rapidly, particularly among governments and the private sector. Second, the spatiotemporal resolution of forest mapping and the ease of tracking forest changes have dramatically improved. As a result, who does and who pays for forest conservation is changing: sectors and people previously considered separate from forest conservation now play an important role and need to be held accountable and motivated or forced to conserve forests. This change requires, and has stimulated, a broader range of forest conservation solutions. The need to assess the outcomes of conservation interventions has motivated the development and application of sophisticated econometric analyses, enabled by high resolution satellite data. At the same time, the focus on climate, together with the nature of available data and evaluation methods, has worked against a more comprehensive view of forest conservation. Instead, it has encouraged a focus on trees as carbon stores, often leaving out other important goals of forest conservation, such as biodiversity and human wellbeing. Even though both are intrinsically connected to climate outcomes, these areas have not kept pace with the scale and diversification of forest conservation. Finding synergies between these ‘co-benefits’, which play out on a local scale, with the carbon objective, related to the global amount of forests, is a major challenge and area for future advances in forest conservation.

This paper is one of several that has directly or indirectly emerged out our “Conservation Effectiveness” project that began in 2017. The Conservation Effectiveness platform for also a byproduct of that project.

CITATION: Buřivalová et al. (2013) Broadening the focus of forest conservation beyond carbon. Current Biology. Volume 33, Issue 11, 5 June 2023, Pages R621-R635

By Rhett Ayers Butler

Rhett Ayers Butler is the Founder and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. He started Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife.