Tropical reforestation and climate change: beyond carbon

Tropical reforestation and climate change: beyond carbon


Tropical reforestation has been highlighted as an important intervention for climate change mitigation because of its carbon storage potential. Tropical reforestation can also play other frequently overlooked, but significant, roles in helping society and ecosystems adapt to climate variability and change.

Research goals & methods

Reforestation can ameliorate climate-associated impacts of altered hydrological cycles in watersheds, protect coastal areas from increased storms, and provide habitat to reduce the probability of species’ extinctions under a changing climate. Consequently, reforestation should be managed with both adaptation and mitigation objectives in mind, so as to maximize synergies among these diverse roles, and to avoid trade-offs in which the achievement of one goal is detrimental to another.

Conclusions & takeaways

Management of increased forest cover must incorporate measures for reducing the direct and indirect impacts of changing climate on reforestation itself. The authors advocate a focus on “climate-smart reforestation,” defined as reforesting for climate change mitigation and adaptation, while ensuring that the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on reforestation are anticipated and minimized.


Locatelli B, Catterall CP, Imbach P, et al. Tropical reforestation and climate change: beyond carbon. Restoration Ecology. 2015;23:337–343. doi:10.1111/rec.12209.


  • Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia
  • Climate Change Program, CATIE, Costa Rica
  • Global Forest and Climate Change Programme, IUCN, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
  • ICRAF, Los Baños, The Philippines
  • Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, U.S.A.
  • Mercer Environment Associates, Sleaford, U.K.
  • Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, U.S.A.
  • Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY, U.S.A.