Protect, manage and then restore lands for climate mitigation

Cook-Patton, S.C., et al. | Nature Climate Change | 2021 | Peer Reviewed | Perspective |


Limited time and resources remain to constrain the climate crisis. Natural climate solutions represent promising options to protect, manage and restore natural lands for additional climate mitigation, but they differ in (1) the magnitude and (2) immediacy of mitigation potential, as well as (3) cost-effectiveness and (4) the co-benefits they offer. Counter to an emerging preference for restoration, we use these four criteria to propose a general rule of thumb to protect, manage and then restore lands, but also show how these criteria explain alternative prioritization and portfolio schemes. This hierarchy offers a decision-making framework for public and private sector actors to optimize the effectiveness of natural climate solutions in an environment in which resources are constrained, and time is short.