A global analysis of the cost-efficiency of forest carbon sequestration

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development | SourceDownload 

The Paris Agreement emphasizes limiting global warming to below 2°C, highlighting the role of forest carbon sequestration in mitigating climate change. However, the cost-efficiency of forest carbon projects varies widely across countries and project types.

Key Policy Questions

  • What are the primary cost and quantity factors influencing forest carbon sequestration?
  • Should the private and non-private benefits of forests be considered?
  • Where are the most cost-efficient locations for forest carbon sequestration?

Proposed Framework: A six-factor framework is proposed to assess the cost-efficiency of forest carbon sequestration, considering factors such as land use opportunity cost, labor costs, forest productivity, wildfire risk, and agricultural greenhouse gas avoidance.


  • Conservation is generally more cost-efficient than afforestation due to avoiding emissions from existing carbon stocks.
  • The most cost-efficient countries include various regions globally, not just tropical areas.
  • Consideration of non-private benefits can significantly alter the cost-efficiency ranking, emphasizing collective action for public benefits.


  • Prioritize forest conservation over afforestation to improve cost-efficiency.
  • Promote collective action to enhance environmental and social co-benefits of forests.
  • Target geographic areas based on cost-efficiency analysis to optimize forest carbon sequestration efforts.