Vegetation Carbon Stock Corridors

A key issue in global conservation is how biodiversity co-benefits can be incorporated into land use and climate change mitigation activities, particularly those being negotiated under the United Nations to reduce emissions from tropical deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Avoiding deforestation by preserving carbon stored in vegetation between protected areas provides an opportunity to mitigate the effects of land use and climate change on biodiversity by maintaining habitat connectivity across landscapes. Here we use a high resolution dataset of vegetation carbon stock to map corridors traversing areas of highest biomass between protected areas in the tropics. Corridors contain close to 50 gigatons of carbon in aboveground biomass, which represents 14% of the total unprotected amount in the tropical region. A large number of corridors have carbon densities that approach or exceed those of the protected areas they connect, suggesting these are suitable areas for achieving connectivity and climate mitigation benefits. To further illustrate how economic and biological information can be used for corridor prioritization at a regional scale, we conducted a multicriteria analysis of corridors in the Legal Amazon, identifying corridors with high carbon, high species richness and endemism, and low economic opportunity costs.

This work was made possible through the support of the NASA Applied Sciences program, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Packard Foundation, and the Foundation.


Complete a form for data access »

Interactive Map

To turn on and off layers, click on the layers button. You can also click on the blue to adjust the transparency of each layer. Use the controls in the upper left to zoom in and out of the map. Click and drag to pan around the map. (The map may take a few seconds to load, please be patient.)




Corridors passing through the densest VCS between protected areas. a–d, central Africa (a), Western Africa (b), southeast Asia (c) and the Guiana Shield (d). Corridors are shown in white, protected areas in semi-transparent grey and VCS as a gradient from low density in red to high density in green.


Multi-criteria scoring of corridors in the Brazilian Amazon across three dimensions: VCS density, mammalian biodiversity and deforestation threat. Scores were divided by EOC in units of US$10,000 ha−1 to yield multicriteria benefit per US$10,000. a,b, Biodiversity was measured as either endemism richness (a) or species richness (b). c, Deforestation threat was represented as the fraction of corridor area projected to be deforested by the year 2030 under a BAU scenario. d–g, Inset maps show areas along the Madeira River (d), in northern Mato Grosso (e), on the border of Rondônia (f) and in Pará at the mouth of the Amazon River (g). Forest cover for the year 2002 and projected remaining forest cover in 2030 (ref. 14) is depicted in inset maps d–g and symbolized by the legend in the lower right corner of c. Extents for insets d and e are shown left to right in a and extents for insets f and g are shown left to right in b. Corridors for all maps are symbolized using 20 quantile breaks.