Policy brief: Ecosystem integrity maximises climate mitigation and minimises risk in international forest policy

The ecological, social and economic values of forests are widely known and avoiding their loss and degradation has been recognized in national and international policy as critical for helping address the many global problems we face.

Protecting and restoring forests are a key solution for the climate crisis as forest ecosystems remove carbon from the atmosphere and accumulate it in living trees, dead wood and the soil. Forest ecosystems provide the habitat for millions of species found nowhere else, and help regulate local climate conditions and provide our freshest water. They function as natural quarantines against pathogen spillover from wildlife to humans and livestock. Forests are also the customary territories of many of the world’s Indigenous and local communities.

However, not all forests are equal, and the benefits they provide us vary according to their ecosystem condition. The differences in their condition are mainly the result of the impacts from human land use and associated activities. Yet little consideration has been given to differentiating forest types and management schemes even though forests in poorer condition are at a greater risk of loss from both human and natural disturbances.

This study was also published in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change.

Article authors

Brendan Rogers

Brendan Rogers

Dr. Rogers investigates how boreal forests are responding to climate change and land use, how this feeds back to climate change, and how management and policy can be used for mitigation and adaptation.
Dr Brendan Mackey

Brendan Mackey

Project Director and Director of the Griffith Climate Action Beacon at Griffith University, contributing to community planning and engagement in forest projects.
Tatiana Shestakova

Tatiana Shestakova

Tatiana is a post-doctoral researcher at Woodwell Climate Research Center research. Her interests span the fields of terrestrial ecology, stable isotope biogeochemistry, ecosystem modelling and climate change impacts on natural ecosystems.
Heather Keith

Heather Keith

Heather is a Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University. Her research is aimed at understanding the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, particularly forests, to improve their management for conservation and climate change mitigation.
Virginia Young

Virginia Young

Virginia is a Director of the International Forests and Climate Programme for the Australian Rainforest Conservation Society (ARCS) working in the international policy arena on primary forests as part of a global collaborative research programme funded through Griffith University. 
Cyril Kormos

Cyril Kormos

Cyril is Founder and Executive Director of Wild Heritage, a project of Earth Island Institute. He also serves as IUCN-WCPA Vice-Chair for World Heritage, is a member of IUCN’s World Heritage Panel and chairs the IUCN-WCPA World Heritage Network.
Dominick Dellasala

Dominick DellaSalla

Dominick is Chief Scientist at Wild Heritage, and former President of the Society for Conservation Biology, North America Section and internationally renowned author of over 200 science papers on forest and fire ecology, conservation biology, endangered species management, and landscape ecology. .
Dr Glenn Bush

Glenn Bush

Dr. Glenn Bush is an environmental economist driven by a desire to find equitable resolutions to the long-standing conflict between human development and environmental conservation.

Additional authors

Jacqueline Dean, Richard Birdsey, Richard A. Houghton, and William R. Moomaw


Brendan M. Rogers, Brendan Mackey, Tatiana A. Shestakova, Heather Keith, Virginia Young, Cyril F. Kormos, Dominick A. DellaSala, Jacqueline Dean, Richard Birdsey, Glenn Bush, Richard A. Houghton and William R. Moomaw (2022). Using ecosystem integrity to maximize mitigation and minimize risk in international forest policy. Griffith Climate Action Beacon Science Informing Policy Briefing Note 2/22, pp. 1-5. Brisbane, Australia: Griffith University. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25904/1912/4555