Forestation actions are a major tool for both climate-change mitigation
and biodiversity conservation, which are often considered independently.
In either case, little attention is given to the potential of the vast
drylands, and the albedo warming effect associated with such forestation
efforts. We propose an approach to identify suitable land for
forestation and quantify its ‘net equivalent carbon stock change’ over
80 years of forests lifetime (Ceq-80), accounting for both carbon
sequestration and albedo changes. Applying it over Queensland as a test
case shows that albedo effects reduce the carbon sequestration cooling
effects by >50%, with residual Ceq-80 of 0.72 Gt,
equivalent to 15% of the state’s projected carbon emissions for the
same time. Our methodology extends restoration efforts by identifying
new land for forestation and demonstrates the importance of quantifying
the climatic value of forestation in drylands, which must also be
considered in biodiversity conservation efforts.