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World Heritage Forests: Carbon Sinks under Pressure

World Heritage Forests: Carbon Sinks under Pressure

Full Title: World Heritage Forests: Carbon Sinks under Pressure
Author(s): Tales Carvalho Resende, David Gibbs, Nancy Harris, Elena Osipova
Publisher(s): World Resources Institute (WRI); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

Forests are some of the most biodiverse habitats on Earth and play a crucial role in climate regulation by absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Almost 70 million hectares of forests are protected within UNESCO World Heritage sites. These sites, found across all types of forested landscapes, are of such outstanding and universal value to humanity that countries have committed to protecting them as part of their national and global heritage. However, the climate benefits of World Heritage forests have not been quantified until now due to a lack of available data.

This report, published by UNESCO, WRI, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), combines recently published maps of global forest carbon emissions and sequestration (removals) between 2001 and 2020 with site-level monitoring to estimate carbon fluxes from UNESCO World Heritage forests and the climate consequences of threats to those forests. It finds that World Heritage forests were collectively strong carbon sinks during this period, with net absorption of approximately 190 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year, equivalent to roughly half the United Kingdom’s annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. Moreover, ongoing carbon sequestration by World Heritage forests has resulted in total carbon storage of approximately 13 billion tonnes, which exceeds the carbon in Kuwait’s proven oil reserves.

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