Secondary and Degraded Forests

Secondary Forests are forests regenerating through a natural succession process after very significant and/or total human or natural disturbance of the original forest. They show major difference in structure, species composition, and age profile compared to primary forests.


Degraded forests are forests which have been harvested unsustainably. In degraded forests, the commercial timber was logged over beyond the natural growth capacity of the system.

It is important to note that the dynamics of deforestation has changed and today 74% of the natural forests under threat of deforestation are not primary forests, but degraded or secondary forests.

Why do SDFs Matter?

Forests contribute to climate change mitigation in important ways. They present a low-cost, nature-based solution for carbon sequestration. However, mature forest reach a maximum storage capacity when growth and decay balance out, and the effect on atmospheric carbon becomes neutral. Secondary forest are by definition growing and hence store additional carbon in biomass as they grow. Their storage capacity, as well as the capacity of mature forests, can be further enhanced through improved management of Forests.


Careful forest management can further accentuate the rate of carbon absorption- by as much as twofold- which makes secondary and young forests a key tool in mitigating climate change. We calculated that a young forest absorbs up to 23 tons of CO2 per hectare each year; incidentally, this exceeds the annual emissions of the average Luxembourger.

Tackling Sustainable Development Goals

Defining Secondary Forests

Potential of SDFs