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Pitfalls in estimating the global carbon removal via forest expansion – a comment on Bastin et al. (2019)

By Andreas Krause, Almut Arneth, Anita Bayer, Allan Buras, Thomas Knoke, Christian Zang, Anja Rammig

Posted 05 Oct 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/788026

We believe the carbon removal potential of 205 Gt C reported by Bastin et al. (2019) to be overestimated. The authors did not consider the carbon already stored on the land with identified tree restoration potential. For instance, grasslands and degraded forests have similar soil carbon stocks as old-growth forests. Accounting for these inconsistencies in the calculation, we estimate a carbon removal potential of 81 Gt C, i.e. only 39% of the Bastin et al. estimate. In addition, some of the assumptions about potential restoration area seem questionable and an essential question remains unanswered: why do areas identified as suitable for tree growth currently lack tree cover?

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