Lower cost and more feasible options to restore forest cover in the contiguous United States for climate mitigation

Elsevier, One Earth, Volume 3, 18 December 2020
Cook-Patton S.C., Gopalakrishna T., Daigneault A., Leavitt S.M., Platt J., Scull S.M. et al.
Restoring forest cover is a prominent option for climate mitigation. Effective deployment requires knowing where opportunities are and how they vary in carbon capture, costs, co-benefits, and feasibility. Here, we combined spatial, economic, and feasibility analyses to examine 10 different opportunity classes for restoration of forest cover across the contiguous United States. These include non-stocked forests, shrublands, protected areas, post-burn landscapes, pasture lands, croplands with challenging soils, urban areas, floodplains, streamsides, and biodiversity corridors. We found 51.6 Mha of total opportunity, which could capture 314.2 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, equivalent to 15% of the United States' 2016 commitment to the Paris Agreement. Half of this mitigation is possible at $20 tCO2−1. However, the highest-ranked opportunity class with respect to carbon capture, costs, co-benefits, and feasibility changed depending on location. Our maps are publicly available to guide policy and implementation efforts at local, state, and national levels.