En-ROADS User Guide

Deforestation and Mature Forest Degradation🔗

Encourage or discourage the protection of forests to change the current trend of deforestation and degradation. Deforestation is the conversion of forest land to other uses, primarily for agriculture. Forest degradation is the temporary loss of forests due to harvesting for wood products or bioenergy. Deforestation is driven by the need for farmland, which can be affected by changes in the food system under Agricultural Emissions.


  • Government policy to preserve forested land and place restrictions on industries such as soybean and/or palm oil.
  • Increased support for Indigenous land rights.
  • Public support and campaigns to encourage land preservation.

Big Messages🔗

  • Reducing deforestation is part of a multi-pronged effort to address climate change. However, deforestation emissions are overshadowed by the enormous amount of carbon dioxide released through fossil fuel combustion.

  • Protecting forests is helpful for many reasons other than climate action, including biodiversity conservation and protection of Indigenous peoples' lands.

Key Dynamics🔗

  • Highly reducing deforestation emissions reduces temperature less than most people would estimate. View the “Greenhouse Gas Net Emissions by Gas – Area” graph to see the role of land use, land use change, and forestry relative to all the other sources of emissions.

  • As consumption grows, food waste and animal-based food demand increase the amount of cropland needed, which drives more deforestation.

  • Drivers of forest degradation also include logging and harvesting forests for products like wood bioenergy (e.g., firewood and wood pellets), lumber, and paper products.

  • Reducing deforestation and forest degradation reduces the net emissions from the land use sector. There is more carbon removal capacity from the forests if they are left to grow, and there are less gross emissions from carbon taken from forests through logging and harvesting. For an in-depth understanding of this dynamic, read the Land and Forests Explainer.

Potential Co-Benefits of Decreasing Deforestation🔗

  • Forests protect biodiversity and provide ecosystem services and food sources.
  • Trees reduce erosion and prevent soil loss, which can negatively impact water quality downstream.
  • Forests provide livelihoods for people (e.g., small-scale resource gathering and sustainable forestry) that can be lost when land is shifted to other uses.

Equity Considerations🔗

  • Forest preservation efforts have sometimes restricted the land access of Indigenous people who have lived sustainably on the land for generations. Policies should be created with local stakeholder engagement.1 2


Deforestation and Mature Forest Degradation

Slider Settings🔗

highly reduced moderately reduced status quo increased
Percent per year reduction or increase -10% to -4% -4% to -1% -1% to 0% 0% to +1%

Model Structure🔗

This sector tracks multiple different types of land to assess the impacts of forest gain, loss, and degradation, and the associated land use, land use change, and forestry greenhouse gas emissions. The key aspects are:

FAQs and Explainers🔗

Please visit support.climateinteractive.org for additional inquiries and support.


[1]: Salopek, P. (2019, May 16). Millions of indigenous people face eviction from their forest homes. National Geographic.

[2]: De Sam Lazaro, F. & Hartman, S. C. (2021, October 21). Uganda’s Batwa tribe, considered conservation refugees, see little government support. PBS NewsHour.

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