As forests grow they capture carbon in the form of biomass. This map shows the carbon removal potential of continuing growth in existing forests. As such, it projects avoided deforestation as opposed to afforestation or reforestation.
Fire, drought, and insects all pose risks to forests and thus limit carbon permanence. Risks are projected into the future using climate models. These models have several assumptions and caveats, so future projections should be interpreted with care.
The climate science community has devised multiple scenarios (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways or “SSPs”) of emissions and warming in the future. SSP2-4.5 or "Low" represents an optimistic outlook with lower emissions, SSP5-8.5 or "High" is pessimistic with very high emissions, and SSP3-7.0 or "Medium" is in between.
We fit models to the past and simulate future conditions through the 21st century. Estimates are averaged within 20 year windows. Moving the slider reveals potential and risks in the near and far future. *Drought and insect risks are constant as models are still in development.