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235. Global Map of Forest Carbon Fluctuations in the 21st Century

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The world is looking for concrete measures for decarbonization to address climate change. Carbon neutrality is premised on the absorption and storage of carbon by the ocean, soil, and forests, and therefore, cannot be achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions alone. Among them, forest supports life on earth by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, and forest management plays an extremely important role in climate change mitigation measures. Forest monitoring system and mapping tools and data monitoring are indispensable for understanding the spatial impact of the activities of various stakeholders.

In January 2021, Nature Climate Change published a paper entitled Global maps of twenty-first century forest carbon fluxes. Forest carbon monitoring systems have been developed for different regions  using various data, methods and assumptions making it difficult to make consistent evaluation across scales. A team of international researchers, including World Resources Institute (WRI) and NASA scientists, integrated ground and satellite observation data to map annual forest-related greenhouse gas emissions and removals at a spatial resolution of 30 m from 2001 to 2019. Based on the monitoring framework used in the study, it was estimated that the global forests were a net carbon sink of -7.6 ± 49 GtCO2e yr−1, equivalent to 1.5 times the annual carbon emissions from the United States

The authors emphasized that this geospatial monitoring framework can support climate policy development by promoting alignment and transparency in setting priorities and tracking the progress of forest-specific climate mitigation goals at the local and global level. This method can also identify contributions of various forest types, with tropical forests absorbing and emitting carbon more than any other forest type adue to deforestation and degradation. The authors also emphasized the importance of stopping the decline of tropical forests from the perspective of climate change mitigation. The forest carbon map can be viewed from web application Global Forest Watch.

JIRCAS is pursuing the development of tropical forest cultivation and conservation technology (Higher Value Forestry) to achieve higher value production of indigenous tree species in Southeast Asia. This initiative will also improve the function of tropical forests as a carbon sink. Tropical forests are a treasure trove of useful timber species, but without an understanding of their complex ecosystems, it is not possible to continue to produce good timber while maintaining forest resilience and health. To contribute to forest management and forestry in the tropics, JIRCAS has been conducting joint research with the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) since 1991. 

The Journal of Tropical Forest Science (JTFS) has published a special issue, "Ecology and Silviculture of Dipterocarp Forests in Malaysia," which summarizes the research results of studies on Dipterocarp forests obtained through many years of joint research collaboration. This special issue (Vol. 28, No.5) focuses on the hillside Dipterocarp forests of the Malaysian Peninsula and particularly on Shorea curtisii, an important commercial timber species, and includes nine papers on the distribution, ecology, forest regeneration, growth and yield of Dipterocarp trees. These new findings, which are the result of observations and insights into forest ecosystems accumulated through long-term cooperation between JIRCAS and FRIM, will greatly contribute to better timber production and forest management in the tropics.

Nancy L. Harris et al. Global maps of twenty-first century forest carbon fluxes, Nature Climate Change (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41558-020-00976-6

Contributors: OKA Hiroyasu and TANI Naoki (Forestry Division), IIYAMA Miyuki (Research Strategy Office)