Land-Management Options for Greenhouse Gas Removal and Their Impacts on Ecosystem Services and the Sustainable Development Goals

Pete Smith* (Corresponding Author), Justin Adams, David J. Beerling, Tim Beringer, Katherine V. Calvin, Sabine Fuss, Bronson Griscom, Nikolas Hagemann, Claudia Kammann, Florian Kraxner, Jan C. Minx, Alexander Popp, Phil Renforth, Jose Luis Vicente Vicente, Saskia Keesstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Citations (Scopus)


Land-management options for greenhouse gas removal (GGR) include afforestation or reforestation (AR), wetland restoration, soil carbon sequestration (SCS), biochar, terrestrial enhanced weathering (TEW), and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). We assess the opportunities and risks associated with these options through the lens of their potential impacts on ecosystem services (Nature's Contributions to People; NCPs) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We find that all land-based GGR options contribute positively to at least some NCPs and SDGs. Wetland restoration and SCS almost exclusively deliver positive impacts. A few GGR options, such as afforestation, BECCS, and biochar potentially impact negatively some NCPs and SDGs, particularly when implemented at scale, largely through competition for land. For those that present risks or are least understood, more research is required, and demonstration projects need to proceed with caution. For options that present low risks and provide cobenefits, implementation can proceed more rapidly following no-regrets principles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-286
Number of pages32
JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
Early online date11 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

The input of P.S. to this article contributes to the following projects: DEVIL (NE/M021327/1), U-GRASS (NE/M016900/1), MAGLUE (EP/M013200/1), Assess-BECCS (funded by UKERC), and Soils-R-GRREAT (NE/P019455/1). The input of P.S. and S.K. to this article contributes to the EU H2020 project under Grant Agreement 774378—Coordination of International Research Cooperation on Soil Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture (CIRCASA). The input of P.R. to this article contributes to projects NE/P019943/1 and NE/P019730/1, which (like NE/P019455/1 for P.S.) are part of the United Kingdom's Greenhouse Gas Removal Program funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). F.K. acknowledges funding from the Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom for the project “Comparative assessment and region-specific optimisation of GGR” (reference NE/P019900/1) and the RESTORE+ project (, which is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) based on a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. D.J.B. gratefully acknowledges funding from the Leverhulme Trust through a Leverhulme Research Centre Award (RC-2015-029). S.F., J.C.M., and J.L.V.V. have contributed to this article under the Project “Strategic Scenario Analysis” (START) funded by the German Ministry of Research and Education (Grant 03EK3046B). The input of K.V.C. was funded under a grant from the ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. C.K. gratefully acknowledges funding by the German BMBF (Grants 01LS1620B and 01LS1620A).


  • afforestation/reforestation
  • biochar
  • bioenergy with carbon capture and storage
  • carbon dioxide removal
  • CDR
  • ecosystem services
  • greenhouse gas removal
  • Nature's Contributions to People
  • NCPs
  • negative emission technology
  • NET
  • SDG
  • soil carbon sequestration
  • terrestrial enhanced weathering
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • wetland restoration


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