Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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4.3.3. Land-Based versus Practice-Based Accounting

The choice of accounting approaches will be important in establishing the difficulty in implementing additional activities under Article 3.4 (see Section for a discussion of these accounting issues and Section 3.3.2 for a discussion of various measurement methods as they apply to Article 3.3 activities). If the Parties decide on land-based measurement for activities under Articles 3.3 and 3.4 and the affected Parties are successful in identifying and tracking individual land parcels in a land-based system, some additional cost and difficulty would result from the extra parcels of land that would need to be tracked, measured, and recorded as a result of additional Article 3.4 activities. This increased cost and difficulty may not pose a significant challenge if a Party's reporting is based solely on project activities. If the Party wishes to report on the implications of a policy or program with national impacts, however, the technical and operational difficulties may become significant. The additional demand for field monitoring resources would essentially scale linearly with the number of separate land areas involved. The incremental effort may be small, however, relative to the large investment of effort needed for the initial establishment of a system for Article 3.3, unless the sheer number of land areas overwhelms the system's capability.

If a land-based approach were chosen, the demand on a Party's measurement and accounting system created by the additional activities selected under Article 3.4 would be significantly affected by the manner in which those activities were defined. Under the broad definition, the monitored land areas might be large regions of similar land use where periodic measurements based on statistical sampling methods were used to document changes in stock over the whole area.
If the narrow definition of activities is utilized-and a fairly lengthy list adopted-maintaining a spatially explicit database on each land area where activities were implemented may be beyond the capacity of any existing national environmental inventory system, so the Parties may wish to consider options that do not require spatially explicit recordkeeping. In selecting among these options, the major issues are likely to be cost and feasibility (Figure 4-7). Although all options are technically feasible, they vary widely in their degree of difficulty. Where Parties have strong institutions of private land ownership and management responsibility, establishing a system in which land owners and managers carry out the basic measurements and annual monitoring, with verification by a third party or government, may be feasible. (The issues of accounting methods discussed in Chapters 2 and 3 would be encountered in a similar manner with activities under Article 3.4.)

Figure 4-7: Relative costs of measuring and reporting carbon stock changes under different decisions regarding definition of "activities" and requirements for spatially explicit accounting.

The impact of these policy choices on monitoring and reporting effort may or may not be significantly affected by selection of a short rather than long list of activities under Option A, if a broad activity definition is adopted. In instances in which a national inventory system is established and the entire land surface is periodically monitored, the addition of further activities would represent no additional effort. If a narrow definition of activity were adopted, the effort would essentially scale up with the number of land areas affected by that activity, and by the number of different activities in the list. The effort would continue to rise, even once the entire land surface of an area was under observation.

One effect of selecting Option B associated with a flexible approach to definitions would be to encourage research and development of new and more efficient methods of measurement, monitoring, and verification. The Parties might choose to make an initial decision that allows for a broad approach during a testing period, with a second review period to take place at a specified future date, as a means of encouraging innovation while protecting against the permanent establishment of methods that might later be regarded as inappropriate.

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