Cheap carbon and biodiversity co-benefits from forest regeneration in a hotspot of endemism

  • Gilroy J
  • Woodcock P
  • Edwards F
 et al. 
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Climate change and biodiversity loss can be addressed simultaneously bywell-planned conservation policies, but this requires information on the alignment of co-benefits under different management actions1–3 . One option is to allowforests to naturally regenerate on marginal agricultural land: a key question is whether this approach will deliver environmental co-benefitsinaneconomically viablemanner4–7 .Herewereport on a survey of carbon stocks, biodiversity and economic values from one of the world’s most endemic-rich and threatened ecosystems: the western Andes of Colombia. We show that naturally regenerating secondary forests accumulate signifi- cant carbon stocks within 30 years, and support biodiverse communities including many species at risk of extinction. Cattle farming, the principal land use in the region, provides minimal economic returns to local communities, making forest regeneration a viable option despite weak global carbon markets. Efforts to promote natural forest regeneration in the tropical Andes could therefore provide globally significant carbon and biodiversity co-benefits at minimal cost.

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  • James J. Gilroy

  • Paul Woodcock

  • Felicity A. Edwards

  • Charlotte Wheeler

  • Brigitte L G Baptiste

  • Claudia A. Medina Uribe

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