Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU)

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“Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses” (AFOLU) is a collective term that refers to human use of and influence on land areas. In climate science and policy, the AFOLU sector is particularly scrutinized for its role in the global greenhouse gas balance. The IPCC guidelines from 1996 distinguish two subsectors within AFOLU: first, emissions resulting from land use and management, including forestry (referred to as “Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry” (LULUCF)); and second, emissions in agriculture.

According to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, the AFOLU sector is currently responsible for approximately 22 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions primarily result from land use and forestry in the LULUCF sector, including deforestation or wetland drainage. Additionally, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and CO2 emissions are generated, especially through industrial agriculture. Alongside CO2, the greenhouse gases N2O and CH4 play an important role in global warming effects.

At the same time, the AFOLU sector presents significant opportunities for climate protection, particularly through the use and management of ecosystems as natural “carbon sinks” that sequester CO2. According to the IPCC report, the potentials for the most substantial emission reduction by 2030 lie in reducing deforestation, transforming other ecosystems, and carbon storage in agriculture, as well as reforestation, afforestation, and ecosystem restoration. Other potential emission reductions can be achieved through sustainable forest management and reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions in agriculture.