Towards a synthesized critique of forest-based 'carbon fix' strategies

Vian, Jessica Enara and Garvey, Brian and Tuohy, Paul Gerard (2023) Towards a synthesized critique of forest-based 'carbon fix' strategies. Climate Resilience and Sustainability, 2 (1). e248. ISSN 2692-4587 (

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This article synthesizes critiques of 'carbon fix' strategies in the forestry sector to clarify key concerns about reductionist treatments of forests and carbon and to facilitate further debate. It begins by asserting that since climate change mitigation has been placed at the centre of forest governance, forests have been deemed to serve as 'carbon fixing' devices in ways that can be discerned across three distinct, but inter-related categories: (i) carbon storage devices; (ii) carbon removal devices; and (iii) net-zero bioenergy devices. A transdisciplinary literature review is used to shed light on key concerns relating to the instrumentalization of forests within each of these categories. By doing so, this article contributes to a deeper understanding of why relegating forests to a 'carbon fix' function is insufficient to tackle climate change and, rather, poses threats to forest ecosystems and forest-dependent communities. This review ultimately calls into question the use of forests to delay crucial systemic changes, without diminishing the importance of forest conservation, restoration, governance, as well as technological innovation, in mitigating the ongoing harmful effects of climate change.