Topic 2: Maintenance of Forests’ Contribution to Global Carbon Budgets


Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity at the current time. Global temperatures are expected to rise beyond levels that ecosystems can adapt to, and significant changes seem likely. All human activity will be affected, and this is prompting serious international collaboration on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Forests have two major roles to play here. Firstly, significant emissions are generated by forest degradation and deforestation. It is in the interest of forest managers to stop and even reverse these losses, although the problems are largely associated with the agricultural sector and its expansion as the world population both increases and seeks steadily better levels of nutrition. Reducing emissions from forest degradation and deforestation (known as REDD) has become an important policy tool in many countries, especially as there are a number of added benefits (referred to as REDD+).

The second area that forests can play a major part in reducing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide is through maintenance and enhancement of carbon sinks in forests. This involves both ensuring that carbon losses are minimized as a result of harvesting (including looking at the entire life cycle of forest products), and increasing the amount of carbon being sequestered in forests by increasing the area of forest, and lengthening rotation times. All activities are important, but they will only work if the forests themselves can adapt to the changes in climate that are accompanying the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Video Lectures

4.2.1 Carbon in forests

4.2.2 Climate change

4.2.3 The Framework Convention on Climate Change

4.2.4 REDD+

4.2.5 Global carbon cycle indicators


Textbook Reading:

  • Chapter 8 of the course textbook:
    Innes, J., & Tikina, A. (Eds.). (2014). Sustainable forest management: From principles to practice. London: Earthscan Publications. ISBN: 1844077241

Further Reading:

Note: of all the topics dealt with in this course, this is the one that is changing the most rapidly. Large amounts of new material are being generated, and it would be impossible to keep this reading list fully up-to-date. You are advised to do your own internet-based searches to get the very latest material. The UN-REDD site ( is particularly helpful.


Module IV - Topic 2: Self-test

Quiz Description:

The following self-test quiz is designed to check your understanding of important learning concepts for this topic. The quiz contains ten multiple choice questions. There is no time limit for you to take the quiz and you may attempt to take it as many times as you like. After you click the Submit button, you will see your Grade, number of Correct Answers, your answers, and the Answer Key for each question.

Quiz Instructions:

While you are taking the quiz, we advise you not referring to any course materials. After you Submit your answers, you may self-reflect the missing points, review relevant contents as necessary, and retake the quiz again until you get the full points

Answer the following questions to see how well you have remembered what you learnt in this topic: