Fulfilling global climate pledges can lead to major increase in forest land on Tibetan Plateau

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 26, Issue 4, 21 April 2023, 106364
Peichao Gao, Yifan Gao, Yang Ou, Haewon McJeon, Xiaodan Zhang, Sijing Ye, Yuanhui Wang, Changqing Song

The UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow spawned the enhancement and updating of many nations’ climate pledges. Previous research has investigated the effects of these pledges on limiting planetary warming, but their spatially explicit effects on land use/cover are unknown. Here, we linked the Glasgow pledges and the spatially explicit responses of the Tibetan Plateau’s land systems. We found that while fulfilling global climate pledges may not significantly affect the global shares of forestland, grassland/pasture, shrubland, and cropland, it needs a 9.4% increase in the forest area of the Tibetan Plateau. This need is an area 11.4 times the increase of the plateau’s forest in the 2010s, or greater than the size of Belgium. The new forest comes mainly from the medium-density grassland in the Yangtze River basin, calling for more proactive environmental management for the headwaters area of this longest river in Asia.