Site identification for carbon sequestration in Latin America: A grid-based economic approach

P.C. Benitez, M. Obersteiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Latin America harbors a large potential for carbon sequestration and biomass production. This paper deals with the estimation of carbon supply curves for afforestation and reforestation and its implicit carbon sequestration in wood products. The methodology presented aims at determining sequestration costs for individual geographical entities, based on unit-specific land use and ecosystem information, and economic data. This approach allows us to supplement local statistics that are typically scarce and unreliable in developing countries, with independent remotely sensed data in order to have a consistent method that can be applied over a large region. The results are mapped, which allows in-depth appraisal of results in an interactive mode and quick identification of least-cost carbon sequestration sites. The model is dynamic to support decision making at various stages in the Kyoto process. After model calibration and sensitivity analysis, we conducted scenario analysis. For a carbon price scenario of $20/tC, we find that the cumulative carbon sequestration by 2012 and 2020 is about 125 MtC and 337 MtC, respectively. The net benefit by 2020 could amount up to US$ 2.3 billion using less than 4% of the area suitable for afforestation and reforestation in the next 20 years. Our long-term estimates of the cumulative sequestration potential for 100 years imply that tree planting could compensate for more than 7 years of current CO2 emissions of the region's energy sector at low costs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-651
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • costs
  • forests
  • timber
  • management
  • emissions
  • subsidies
  • benefits
  • options


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