Irrecoverable Carbon: The Importance of Preventing Deforestation



The following content is sponsored by the Carbon Streaming Corporation

 

Irrecoverable Carbon

The Briefing

  • Researchers have identified natural places that the world cannot afford to lose due to their irreplaceable carbon reserves, known as “irrecoverable carbon”
  • Nearly 50% of global irrecoverable carbon is found in forests

Irrecoverable Carbon: Preventing Deforestation

The Earth is home to some natural ecosystems that function as carbon vaults, storing massive amounts of carbon. Researchers developed the concept of “irrecoverable carbon” to identify areas on the basis of three criteria relevant for conservation:

  1. Manageability: How they can be influenced by direct and local human actions
  2. Vulnerability: The magnitude of carbon lost upon disturbance
  3. Recoverability: The recoverability of carbon stocks following loss

Applying the three criteria across all ecosystems reveals that some places contain carbon that humans can manage, and if lost, could not be recovered by 2050, when the world needs to reach net-zero.

The above graphic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation charts global irrecoverable carbon by land area, highlighting important ecosystems that function as carbon sinks.

Breaking Down the Earth’s Irrecoverable Carbon

According to researchers Noon, M.L., Goldstein, A. et al., natural ecosystems contain around 139.1 ± 443.6 gigatonnes (Gt) of irrecoverable carbon globally. (Because the amount of stored carbon cannot be negative, the researchers restrained the uncertainty to 0–582.7 Gt.)

Here’s a breakdown of global irrecoverable carbon by ecosystem type:

EcosystemTotal Irrecoverable Carbon (Gt)% of Global Total
Tropical and subtropical forest41.129.5%
Boreal and temperate peat23.416.9%
Tropical (Read more...)