Although the term forest degradation is sometimes used in forestry, existing definitions are generally inadequate to capture actions that change carbon stocks because they lack specificity. These definitions commonly refer to reductions in the productive capacity of the forest. As an example, the FAO definition states "Changes within the forest class that negatively affect the stand or site and, in particular, lower the production capacity. Thus, degradation is not reflected in the estimates of deforestation" (FAO, 1995b).
If the forest definition adopted for the Protocol includes relatively sparse forests (woodlands), considerable amounts of carbon could be removed from a dense forest while the remnant land cover remains within the strict definition of a forest. These actions would not constitute deforestation and thus need not be reported under Article 3.3. We note however, that such actions could be captured as "additional human-induced activities related to.the LUCF categories" of Article 3.4, if the Parties so decide. Furthermore, provided the accounting rules for Articles 3.3 and 3.4 are identical (see Section 22.214.171.124), whether a clearing activity is classified as deforestation (Article 3.3) or as degradation (Article 3.4) would have no influence on the Protocol's outcome. Chapter 3 discusses some definitional scenarios that may capture such activities.
Forest management can lead to increased carbon stock on a site-the opposite of degradation. This aggradation can occur, for example, through increases in the density or average size of trees in a stand. Where the change in total carbon stocks can be attributed to human actions, Parties may decide to include such changes under Article 3.4 (see Section 4.4.5). We note, however, that attributing cause from among directly human-induced change (e.g., as a result of improved silviculture), indirect influences (e.g., nitrogen or CO2 fertilization), and natural causes (including natural successional processes) generally will be difficult. Section 2.4 discusses some methods that assist in distinguishing the increment that results from the activity from background increase.
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