Research and analysis

The Relationship between Biodiversity, Carbon Stock Resilience, and the provision of other Ecosystem Services: A critical review of the evidence base

This review provides lessons for the forestry component of the International Climate Fund, with implications for selection and design of interventions in tropical forests.

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The findings of this review provide lessons for the forestry component of the International Climate Fund (ICF), with implications for selection and design of interventions in tropical forests that are designed to maximise carbon storage, livelihoods benefits and enhancement of biodiversity.

The broader lessons from the review include the following:

  • biodiversity and its conservation have value beyond a ‘side benefit’ of forestry interventions
  • aspects of biodiversity can also reasonably be considered as important to the adaptation and resilience component of the ICF
  • measures to conserve intact, natural forest, and to restore degraded areas to near natural levels of intactness and diversity, are likely to be broadly effective at preserving carbon storage and other ecosystem services that benefit local populations (subject to issues of access and use rights)
  • the carbon storage, biodiversity and ecosystem service benefits of forests are best understood at the landscape level, and forestry interventions are best planned at the landscape level
  • the use of biodiversity by communities is often associated with particular types of knowledge, cultural practices and preferences
  • there is scope for a more in-depth review of the practical experiences gained through the implementation of interventions in tropical forests and factors potentially linked to the success of interventions

This review of the relationship between biodiversity, carbon storage and the provision of other ecosystem services in tropical forests was carried out by the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) for the Department for International Development (DFID). The study provides general lessons around the role of biodiversity in generating, maintaining and/or enhancing ecosystem services relevant to the International Climate Fund (ICF), as well as related guidance relevant to specific types of interventions.

This report details the findings of a critical literature review of relevant papers, as well as lessons related to the design of investments under the forestry components of the ICF.

Evidence has been reviewed for the relationships between biodiversity and the following ecosystem services:

  • climate regulation, i.e. carbon stocks and their resilience
  • other regulating services, including soil fertility and erosion control , water regulation and quality, protection from natural hazards and climate regulation
  • provisioning services, including timber, fuelwood, food and medicine

The final section of the report discusses lessons from the review for the forestry component of the ICF and outlines the trade-offs and synergies for particular interventions that might form the basis of ICF investments.

Published 17 July 2014