The role of the carbon sink in recovering degraded and secondary forest across the tropics

Tropical forests play a key role in climate change mitigation. Recovering, degraded and secondary forests are becoming more dominant in tropical landscapes and yet large uncertainties exist regarding their carbon sink and storage.

Starting in the Brazilian Amazon, this talk will explore how a variety of satellite datasets can be used to improve the spatial representation of the carbon sink in recovering forests. By combining satellite-based datasets of secondary forest age and aboveground carbon, this talk will explain how the carbon accumulation can be modelled according to different environmental variables and disturbances. These disturbances were found to drive spatially distinct regrowth patterns, with repeated anthropogenic disturbances reducing regrowth by up to 55%.

Expanding this approach across the major tropical regions, the second half of the talk will introduce the regional carbon recovery in degraded and secondary forests across the Amazon, Central Africa, and Borneo. Between 1984 and 2018 recovering forests offset a quarter of carbon emissions from tropical forest loss, indicating the mitigation potential of protecting them, alongside old-growth forest conservation.

Viola successfully defended her PhD in December at the University of Bristol. Her PhD research focused on using satellite data to improve the understanding of the carbon emissions and removals in human-modified forests across the tropics, with a particular focus on Brazil and the Brazilian Amazon. The main motivation of the research was to understand the climate change mitigation potential of these forests. These themes will also be the focus of her talk. She is now a Research Associate at the University of Exeter and will soon move on to the German Research Centre for Geoscience in Potsdam.

This seminar is followed by a drinks reception and everyone is welcome.