Carbon, biodiversity & ecosystem services:
exploring co-benefits

Carbon & co-benefits

Emissions from land use change, mainly tropical forest loss, contribute an estimated 17.4% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC 2007). The maintenance and enhancement of natural carbon stocks, e.g. through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), is now considered a key climate change mitigation measure.

Maintaining natural carbon stocks can generate co-benefits, benefits that are additional to climate change mitigation effects. Ecosystem co-benefits, which include biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, derive directly from maintaining natural ecosystems. Other co-benefits derive from the mechanisms used and the social and political changes needed to implement them, such as clarification of land tenure and enhanced participation in decision making. These are sometimes termed 'social' co-benefits. The types, mixture and scale of co-benefits vary between approaches and locations.


The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) supports countries to address co-benefits in planning and implementing climate change mitigation measures, including REDD+. Our support is adapted to the countries' needs and priorities, and includes maps on the distribution of carbon in relation to protected areas, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services, as well as other guidance and tools. Some of this work also supports national efforts to prepare for REDD under the UN-REDD Programme.

UNEP-WCMC further supports countries to address multiple benefits of REDD+ as part of the REDD-PAC project.