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Forest biodiversity, carbon and other ecosystem services: relationships and impacts of deforestation and forest degradation

Formally Refereed
Authors: Ian D. Thompson, Joice Ferreira, Toby Gardner, Manuel Guariguata, Lian Pin Koh, Kimiko Okabe, Yude Pan, Christine B. Schmitt, Jason Tylianakis, Jos Barlow, Valerie Kapos, Werner A. Kurz, John A. Parrotta, Mark D. Spalding, Nathalie van Vliet
Year: 2012
Type: Book Chapter
Station: Northern Research Station
Source: IUFRO World Series Volume 31. p. 21-51


REDD+ actions should be based on the best science and on the understanding that forests can provide more than a repository for carbon but also offer a wide range of services beneficial to people. Biodiversity underpins many ecosystem services, one of which is carbon sequestration, and individual species’ functional traits play an important role in determining ecological processes. Higher levels of biodiversity generally support greater levels of ecosystem service production than lower levels, and ecosystem properties, such as resilience, are important considerations when managing human-modified ecosystems. Tropical forests have high levels of biodiversity yet have experienced severe impacts from deforestation and degradation, with consequent losses of biodiversity and ecosystem processes that support the provision of ecosystem services, including carbon storage. Tropical montane and dry forests are especially vulnerable. In (sub-)tropical forests recovering from major disturbances, both carbon and biodiversity increase, but recovery rates diminish over time, and recovery of biodiversity is typically much slower than that of carbon. However, (sub-)tropical secondary forests are recognised for their biodiversity conservation values and as important carbon sinks. In many cases, anthropogenic factors – such as land use change, introduction of species or barriers to dispersal – can lead to the creation of ‘novel ecosystems’ that are distinct in species composition and functioning. The implications of these novel ecosystems for conserving ecological integrity and provision of ecosystem services remains poorly understood.


Thompson, Ian D.; Ferreira, Joice; Gardner, Toby; Guariguata, Manuel; Koh, Lian Pin; Okabe, Kimiko; Pan, Yude; Schmitt, Christine B.; Tylianakis, Jason; Barlow, Jos; Kapos, Valerie; Kurz, Werner A.; Parrotta, John. A.; Spalding, Mark D.; van Vliet, Nathalie. 2012. Forest biodiversity, carbon and other ecosystem services: relationships and impacts of deforestation and forest degradation (Chapter 2). In: Parrotta, J.A., Wildburger, C and Mansourian, S. (eds.), Understanding relationships between biodiversity, carbon, forests and people: The key to achieving REDD+ objectives. A global assessment report prepared by the Global Forest Expert Panel on Biodiversity,Forest Management, and REDD+. IUFRO World Series Volume 31. Vienna. 161 p.