Bronson Griscom

I am an ecological accountant for The Nature Conservancy. What gets me up in the morning is this question: How can nature help us solve climate change? To explain this, let’s start with the fundamentals: CO2 is the largest cause of climate change. Through a magical process called photosynthesis, trees suck CO2 out of the air, turn the C into cellulose (wood), and release the O2 (oxygen) back into the air. In other words, forests, wetlands, and grasslands are a big climate change solution. Conserving and restoring ecosystems, and improving our management of working lands is a low cost solution to offsetting at least 1/3 of climate change. My job is to 1) run the numbers on this natural climate solution, and 2) help design conservation strategies that provide yet bigger solutions to climate change. I also work with colleagues to integrate our carbon accounting with measures of other benefits forests provide for people.

Here are three examples:

1) We are measuring the CO2 benefits of low impact logging practices in Borneo, and we are re-designing low impact logging practices to achieve yet more carbon benefits. Low impact logging practices could cut carbon pollution in half while maintaining local jobs, maintaining Orangutan habitat, and improving water quality. See this blog for more.
2) We are measuring the extent to which community managed forests in Mexico are already providing CO2 benefits, and assessing how we can help these communities to provide even more.
3) We are measuring the extent to which improved land tenure and law enforcement in the Brazilian Amazon reduces CO2 emissions from deforestation. We are also exploring alternatives to cattle ranching, like cacao agroforestry, which can be more profitable yet store more carbon.

Prior to joining TNC, I coordinated a successful effort at the U.S. Department of State to make climate change funding available for forest-climate initiatives through the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). Before that I was the post-doc on an EPA-funded research program to prioritize watershed conservation and restoration efforts in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands. I completed a Ph.D. in tropical forest ecology from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2003. Prior to that I got an M.Sc. from New York University in plant genetics and conservation. Hopefully that genetics part sounds impressive, but I confess I didn’t take to gel electrophoresis. Prior to that I was a 20-something dude trying to figure out what to do.


Climate Change

Griscom, B.W., Goodman, R.C., Burivalova, Z., & Putz, F.E. (2017). Carbon and biodiversity impacts of intensive versus extensive tropical forestry. Conservation Letters, 10(1), 160-165.

Griscom, B.W., Ellis, P.W., Baccini, A., Marthinus, D., Evans, J.S., Ruslandi. (2016). Synthesizing global and local datasets to estimate jurisdictional forest carbon fluxes in Berau, Indonesia. PLoS ONE, 11, e0146357. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146357

Griscom B, et al. 2014. Carbon emissions performance of commercial logging in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Global Change Biology 20(3):932-937.

Putz, F, et al. 2014. A more realistic portrayal of tropical forestry: response to Kormos and Zimmerman. Conservation Letters. In press.Griscom, B., Cortez, R., 2013. The case for Improved Forest Management (IFM) as a promising REDD+ strategy in the tropics. Journal of Tropical Conservation Science. 6 (3):409-425.

Venter, O., et al. 2013. Using systematic conservation planning to minimize REDD+
conflict with agriculture and logging in the tropics. Conservation Letters 6: 116-124.

Del Cid-Liccardi, C., et al. 2012. Managing carbon sequestration in tropical forests. In Managing Forest Carbon in a Changing Climate, Eds. Ashton, M., Tyrrell, M., Spalding, D., Gentry, B. Springer.

Morton, D., et al. 2011. Historic emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Mato Grosso, Brazil: 1) Source data uncertainties. Carbon Balance and Management 6 (18)

Cortez, R., et al. 2010. A Nested Approach to REDD+: Structuring Effective and Transparent Incentive Mechanisms for REDD+ Implementation at Multiple Scales. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. 46 pages.

Griscom, B., et al. 2009. Sensitivity of amounts and distribution of tropical forest carbon credits depending on baseline rules. Journal of Environmental Science & Policy. 12 pp 897-991. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2009.07.008. Note: Requested as submission to UNFCCC by UNFCCC Secretariat, February, 2009.

Griscom, B., et al. 2009. The Hidden Frontier of Forest Degradation: A Review of the Science, Policy and Practice of Reducing Degradation Emissions. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. 76 pages.


Ellis, P., Griscom, B., Walker, W., Gonçalves, F., Cormier, T. (2016). Mapping selective logging impacts in Borneo with GPS and airborne lidar. Forest Ecology and Management, 365, 184-196.

Schroth, G., Garcia, E., Griscom, B.W., Teixeira, W. G. & Barros, L. P. (2015). Commodity production as restoration driver in the Brazilian Amazon? Pasture re-agro-forestation with cocoa (Theobroma cacao) in southern Pará. Sustainability Science, in press.

Griscom, B.W., and R.C. Goodman. 2015. Reframing the sharing vs sparing debate for tropical forestry landscapes. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 27, 145-147.

Griscom H, et al. 2014. Spatial Dynamics of Canopy Trees in an Old Growth Eastern Hemlock Forest in the Central Appalachian Highlands. Natural Areas Journal 34(1): 99-104.

Putz, F.E., et al. 2012. Sustaining conservation values in selectively logged tropical forests: The attained and the attainable. Conservation Letters.

Griscom, H., Griscom, B. 2011. Evaluating the ecological niche of American chestnut for optimal hybrid seedling reintroduction sites in the Appalachian ridge and valley province. New Forests DOI: 10.1007/s11056-011-9291-7

Griscom, B., Griscom, H., Deacon, S. 2011. Species-specific barriers to tree regeneration in high elevation habitats of West Virginia. Restoration Ecology 19 (5) pp. 660–670

Griscom, H., et al. 2009. Forest regeneration from pasture in the dry tropics of Panama: effects of cattle, exotic grass, and forested riparia. Restoration Ecology. 17(1) pp. 117-126


Bronson's posts