188.8.131.52 Maintaining or increasing forest area: reducing deforestation and degradation
Deforestation - human-induced conversion of forest to non-forest land uses - is typically associated with large immediate reductions in forest carbon stock, through land clearing. Forest degradation - reduction in forest biomass through non-sustainable harvest or land-use practices - can also result in substantial reductions of forest carbon stocks from selective logging, fire and other anthropogenic disturbances, and fuelwood collection (Asner et al., 2005).
In some circumstances, deforestation and degradation can be delayed or reduced through complete protection of forests (Soares-Filho et al., 2006), sustainable forest management policies and practices, or by providing economic returns from non-timber forest products and forest uses not involving tree removal (e.g., tourism). Protecting forest from all harvest typically results in maintained or increased forest carbon stocks, but also reduces the wood and land supply to meet other societal needs.
Reduced deforestation and degradation is the forest mitigation option with the largest and most immediate carbon stock impact in the short term per ha and per year globally (see Section 9.2 and global mitigation assessments below), because large carbon stocks (about 350-900 tCO2/ha) are not emitted when deforestation is prevented. The mitigation costs of reduced deforestation depend on the cause of deforestation (timber or fuelwood extraction, conversion to agriculture, settlement, or infrastructure), the associated returns from the non-forest land use, the returns from potential alternative forest uses, and on any compensation paid to the individual or institutional landowner to change land-use practices. These costs vary by country and region (Sathaye et al., 2007), as discussed below.