Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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Part III

5. Methods for Measuring and Monitoring

  1. Lands under Articles 3.3 and 3.4 could be identified, monitored, and reported using geographical and statistical information. Changes in carbon stocks and net greenhouse gas emissions over time can be estimated using some combination of direct measurements, activity data, and models based on accepted principles of statistical analysis, forest inventory, remote-sensing techniques, flux measurements, soil sampling, and ecological surveys. These methods vary in accuracy, precision, verifiability, cost, and scale of application. The cost of measuring changes in carbon stocks and net greenhouse gas emissions for a given area increases as both desired precision and landscape heterogeneity increase. [2.4, 3.4]

  2. The spatial resolution of monitoring has important implications for accuracy and costs. If a small minimum resolvable land area is used, the task and cost of monitoring can become very demanding. If the spatial resolution is set at a coarse scale, the data demands can be modest, but significant areas subject to an activity may be lost in the averaging process. For example, if forests and deforestation are defined in terms of canopy cover and canopy cover is assessed over land areas of 100 ha, then deforestation of smaller areas within a unit may not take the canopy cover of the unit below the forest definition threshold. Thus, changes in carbon stocks may not be accounted and, likewise, afforestation or reforestation of small areas may not be accounted. Hence, there are clear tradeoffs between an accurate and precise assessment of changes in carbon stocks and cost. However, an appropriate design should result in a statistically reliable estimate. [2.2.2]
Table 3: Estimate of accounted average annual carbon stock change for ARD activities. The IPCC and FAO Definitional Scenarios and three accounting approaches under the FAO Definitional Scenario have been applied to illustrate with the available data the effect of different accounting approaches. Other Definitional Scenarios described in Chapter 3, Table 3-4, have not been included in this analysis. The figures and ranges of values in the table are illustrative, provide first-order estimates, and may not encompass the full range of uncertainties. Negative numbers indicate carbon emissions and positive numbers carbon removals. For details, see Table 3-17 in Chapter 3.

 
Estimated Range of Accounted Average Annual Stock Change 2008-2012 (Mt C yr-1)
Includes carbon in aboveground and below-ground biomass,
excludes carbon in soils and in dead organic matter
 
Area Change (Mha yr-1)
Region
Activity
AR Average
Rate of Uptake (t C ha-1 yr-1); D Average Stock (t C ha-1)
Post-Harvest
Regeneration
Conversion
between
Non-Forest
and Forest
FAO Definitional
Scenario,
Land-Based I
Accounting
FAO Definitional
Scenario,
Land-Based II
Accounting
FAO Definitional
Scenario,
Activity-Based
Accounting
IPCC
Definitional
Scenario

Boreal Region
Total (= Annex I)

AR
D
Total ARD
0.4 to 1.2
35
3.1
0.1
0.5
-209 to -162
-18
-227 to -180
-56 to -8
-18
-74 to -26
5 to 48
-18
-13 to 30
0 to 2
-18
-18 to -16
Temperate Region
Annex I
AR
D
Total ARD
1.5 to 4.5
60
5.4
0.5
1.2
-550 to -81
-72
-622 to -153
-134 to 303
-72
-206 to 231
81 to 519
-72
9 to 447
7 to 44
-72
-65 to -28
Annex I Total
AR
D
Total ARD
8.5
0.6
1.7
-759 to -243
-90
-849 to -333
-190 to 295
-90
-280 to 205
87 to 573
-90
-3 to 483
7 to 46
-90
-83 to -44
Temperate Region
Total
AR
D
Total ARD
1.5 to 4.5
60
n/a
2.1
1.9
126
n/a
n/a
126
n/a
n/a
126
n/a
n/a
126
-99 to 41
Tropical Region
Total
AR
D
Total ARD
4 to 8
120
n/a

2.6
13.7

n/a
-1644
n/a
n/a
-1644
n/a
n/a
-1644
n/a
170 to 415
-1644
-1474 to -1229
Global Total
(summing regional totals)
AR
D
Total ARD
n/a
4.6
16.3
n/a
-1788
n/a
n/a
-1788
n/a
n/a
-1788
n/a
197 to 584
-1788
-1591 to -1204

Notes: n/a = no number is provided because the area of regeneration after harvest in the tropical region and part of the temperate region was not available. In addition, regeneration after selective cutting, as it is often used in the tropics, is difficult to capture with the FAO Definitional Scenario. It is assumed that recent area conversion rates ["recent" = for Annex I Parties AR late 1980s/early 1990s and for D 1980s (except for Canada and Russian Federation early 1990s); ARD in other regions 1980s] have applied since 1990, and will continue to do so until 2012. The IPCC Definitional Scenario includes transitions between forest and non-forest land uses under Article 3.3. For the purposes of this table, it is assumed that not only planting, but also other forms of stand establishment such as natural establishment, are considered AR activities. The FAO Definitional Scenario includes the harvest/regeneration cycle, because regeneration is defined as reforestation. Within the FAO Definitional Scenario, three accounting approaches are distinguished (see paragraph 25 and Section 3.3.2). Uptake rates are intended to span the range within which the average value for each region is expected to be. The lower bound of the estimated average annual stock change corresponds to the lower uptake rate in AR and the higher bound to the higher uptake rate. Trees have been assumed to grow according to a sigmoidal growth curve. Estimated area for conversion between non-forest and forest should be regarded as an upper limit for the temperate region total and the tropical region, because some countries may have reported plantations for 1990 but not for 1980, and because some of the plantations may not qualify as resulting from AR activities under the IPCC Definitional Scenario. Also, for tropical countries, the deforestation estimates are very uncertain and could be in error by as much as 50%.


  1. The technical capacity required by Annex I Parties to measure, monitor, and verify carbon stock changes and net greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol will be significantly affected by decisions of the Parties regarding definitions of key terms related to land use, land-use change, and forestry activities. It will also depend on decisions on, inter alia, additional activities that may be included under Article 3.4, and whether additional activities are defined broadly or narrowly. Depending upon decisions that may be made, establishing a monitoring, reporting, and verification system under Articles 3.3 and 3.4 is likely to involve a significant effort by Annex I Parties, given the technology, data, and resources required, and the short time available. [2.4.1, 3.4, 4.3.2, 4.3.5]

  2. Annex I Parties generally have the basic technical capacity (soil and forest inventories, land-use surveys, and information based on remote-sensing and other methods) to measure carbon stocks and net greenhouse gas emissions in terrestrial ecosystems. However, few, if any, countries perform all of these measurements routinely, particularly soil inventories. Some Annex I Parties may use existing capacity with minimal modification to implement the various Articles in the Kyoto Protocol; however, some other Annex I Parties may need to significantly improve their existing measurement systems in order to develop operational systems. Non-Annex I Parties may require technical, institutional, and financial assistance and capacity building for measuring, monitoring, and verifying carbon stock changes as well as estimating net greenhouse gas emissions. [2.4.6, 3.4.3, 4.2]

  3. Technical methods for measuring and estimating changes in forest carbon stocks in aboveground biomass over a 5-year commitment period may be deemed to be sensitive enough to serve the requirements of the Protocol. Sensitive methods for estimating below-ground carbon stocks also exist. However, changes in soil carbon stocks are in some instances small and difficult to assess accurately over a 5-year time period. This problem may be addressed by adoption of appropriate sampling techniques supported by modeling that take into account spatial variability. Methods that further improve estimates of soil and vegetation carbon stock will depend on future research and model development and are likely to be highly transferable between Parties. [2.4.2, 2.4.3, 4.2.2, 5.4.1]


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