IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

9.7.2 Ancillary effects of GHG mitigation policies

Climate mitigation policies may have benefits that go beyond global climate protection and actually accrue at the local level (Dudek et al., 2002). Since ancillary benefits tend to be local, rather than global, identifying and accounting for them can reduce or partially compensate the costs of the mitigation measures. However, forests fulfil many important environmental functions and services that can be enhanced or negatively disturbed by human activities and management decisions. Negative effects can be triggered by some mitigation options under certain circumstances. Positive and negative impacts of mitigation options on sustainable development are presented in Table 9.10.

Table 9.10: Sustainable development implications of forestry mitigation

Activity category Sustainable development implications 
Social Economic Environmental 
A. Increasing or maintaining the forest area 
Reducing deforestation and forest degradation Positive Positive or negative Positive 
Promotes livelihood.  Provides sustained income for poor communities. Forest protection may reduce local incomes. Biodiversity conservation. Watershed protection. Soil protection. Amenity values (Nature reserves, etc.) 
Afforestation/reforestation Positive or negative Positive or negative Positive or negative 
Promotes livelihood. Slows population migration to other areas (when a less intense land use is replaced). Displacement of people may occur if the former activity is stopped, and alternate activities are not provided. Influx of outside population has impacts on local population. Creation of employment (when less intense land use is replaced). Increase/decrease of the income of local communities. Provision of forest products (fuelwood, fibre, food construction materials) and other services.  Impacts on biodiversity at the tree, stand, or landscape level depend on the ecological context in which they are found. Potential negative impacts in case on biodiversity conservation (mono-specific plantations replacing biodiverse grasslands or shrub lands). Watershed protection (except if water-hungry species are used) . Losses in stream flow. Soil protection. Soil properties might be negatively affected. 
B. Changing to sustainable forest management 
Forest management in plantations Positive Positive Positive 

Promotes livelihood.


Creation of employment

Increase of the income of local communities.

Provision of forest products (fuelwood, fibre, food, construction materials) and other services.


Enhance positive impacts and minimize negative implications on biodiversity, water and soils.

Sustainable forest management in native forest Positive Positive Positive 

Promotes livelihood.


Creation of employment.

Increase of the income of local communities.

Provision of forest products (fuelwood, fibre, food, construction materials) and other services.


Sustainable management prevents forest degradation, conserves biodiversity and protects watersheds and soils.

C. Substitution of energy intensive materials 
Substitution of fossil intensive products by wood products [Positive or negative] [Positive] [Negative] 

Forest owners may benefit.

Potential for competition with the agricultural sector (food production, etc.).


Increased local income and employment in rural and urban areas.

Potential diversification of local economies.

Reduced imports.


Non-sustainable harvest may lead to loss of forests, biodiversity and soil.

D. Bioenergy 
Bioenergy production from forestry Positive or negative Positive or negative Positive or negative 

Forest owners may benefit.

Potential for competition with the agricultural sector (food production, etc.)


Increased local income and employment.

Potential diversification of local economies.

Provision of renewable and independent energy source.

Potential competition with the agricultural sector (food production, etc.)


Benefits if production of fuelwood is done in a sustainable way.

Mono specific short rotation plantations for energy may negatively affect biodiversity, water and soils, depending on site conditions.


Stopping or slowing deforestation and forest degradation (loss of carbon density) and sustainable forest management may significantly contribute to avoided emissions, conserve water resources and prevent flooding, reduce run-off, control erosion, reduce river siltation, and protect fisheries and investments in hydroelectric power facilities; and at the same time, preserve biodiversity (Parrotta, 2002). Thus, avoided deforestation has large positive implications for sustainable development. Further, natural forests are a significant source of livelihoods to hundreds and millions of forest-dependent communities.

Plantations provide an option to enhance terrestrial sinks and mitigate climate change. Effects of plantations on sustainable development of rural societies have been diverse, depending on socio-economic and environmental conditions and management regime. Plantations may have either significant positive and /or negative effects (environmental and social effects). They can positively contribute, for example, to employment, economic growth, exports, renewable energy supply and poverty alleviation. In some instances, plantation may also lead to negative social impacts such as loss of grazing land and source of traditional livelihoods.

Large investments have been made in commercial plantations on degraded lands in Asia. However, lack of consultation with stakeholders (state of land tenure and use rights) may result in failure to achieve the pursued results. Better integration between social goals and afforestation is necessary (Farley et al., 2004). As demand increases for lands to afforest, more comprehensive, multidimensional environmental assessment and planning will be required to manage land sustainably.

Agro-forestry can produce a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits, and probably wider than in case of large-scale afforestation. Agro-forestry systems could be an interesting opportunity for conventional livestock production with low financial returns and negative environmental effects (overgrazing and soil degradation). For many livestock farmers, who may face financial barriers to develop this type of combined systems (e.g., silvo-pastoral systems), payment for environmental services could contribute to the feasibility of these initiatives (Gobbi, 2003). Shadow trees and shelter may have also beneficial effects on livestock production and income, as reported by Bentancourt et al., (2003). Little evidence of local extinctions and invasions of species risking biodiversity has been found when practising agro-forestry (Clavijo et al., 2005).