This essay is an introduction to the issue of carbon sinks.  It outlines the terminology, the scientific background and the policy under the Kyoto Protocol. It then focuses on the critical questions that need answering before national strategies for meeting emission reduction targets can incorporate sequestration.

Following a review of the basic concepts of carbon sinks, the key forest-related activities that change carbon balances are discussed. The paper highlights some of the problems that affect the efficiency and effectiveness of carbon sequestration schemes, including leakage and additionality.

This essay is accessible and offers a short briefing on the essentials of carbon sinks issues in policy and practice. It is suitable for anyone without prior knowledge of the subject area.