Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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6.1.1. The IPCC Guidelines

The IPCC Guidelines consist of three volumes: the Reference Manual, the Workbook, and the Reporting Instructions. To analyze their adequacy for reporting under the Protocol, there is a need to distinguish between them. The desired principles of these inventory guidelines include completeness, comparability, transparency, and accuracy (FCCC, 1999). The SBSTA has developed revised UNFCCC reporting guidelines for national communications for Annex I Parties (FCCC, 1999, 2000) that include GHG inventories. These UNFCCC guidelines are based on the IPCC Guidelines but are more detailed.

The Reference Manual provides a comprehensive approach to carbon accounting (by covering all of the main land-use change and forestry activities) (see Figure 6-1). The Reference Manual mentions all pools and encourages countries to undertake comprehensive accounting of carbon pools affected by anthropogenic activities in relation to LUCF. The Guidelines apply the principle of balanced accounting for all changes in carbon stocks for all reported pools on a land area affected by a given activity; it quantifies sources and removals of GHGs. The Guidelines do not differentiate, however, between direct human-induced activities and indirect human activities (e.g., atmospheric CO2 fertilization or nutrient deposition).

Figure 6-1: Structure in the IPCC Guidelines to account for national changes in carbon pools. The Reference Manual describes all activities within the outer and inner circles. The Workbook accounts for all changes in pools due to activities within the inner circle only. Emissions and removals of greenhouse gases can be reported within the Reporting Instructions.

Using the Reference Manual, it is feasible to estimate national changes in aboveground and below-ground biomass, soil, soil surface litter, and harvested wood products for all forests, shrublands, grasslands, and agricultural lands (see Figure 6-1). For countries in which the change in stocks of forest products is significant, the Reference Manual recommends that the products pool be reported.

To improve accuracy, however, country-specific data and more elaborate methods-such as those described in the Reference Manual-may be required. The Guidelines encourage the use of national data, but because the Guidelines were designed for use by all Parties, a range of default data is provided in the Workbook. Although the use of a range of default data does not mean that inventories are not comparable (Ravindranath and Sudha, 1999; Houghton and Ramakrishna, 2000), the Guidelines state that the use of default data "is unlikely to be considered credible for any country which has significant emissions or activities in this area" (IPCC, 1997, Vol. 3, p. 5.15). In other words, the use of national data is likely to increase the accuracy of estimates in GHGs, changes in carbon stocks, and their associated activities. This increased accuracy could be important for compliance under the Protocol.

The underlying principles of national accounting for GHG emissions and removals in the Reference Manual are the same as those applied in the Workbook. The Reference Manual contributes to comparability and transparency by virtue of a common, simplified approach. It is also helpful when there are limitations of expertise and data.

Unlike the Reference Manual, however, the Workbook considers changes in only two carbon pools, such as aboveground biomass and carbon in the top 0.3 m of the soil (see Figure 6-1). The soil carbon method accounts for cultivation of soils, land-use change involving soils, and liming of agricultural soils. The Workbook does not provide explicit methods for other pools, including below-ground biomass, harvested wood products, and deep soil carbon. The treatment of wood products in the Workbook differs from that of the Reference Manual. The Workbook assumes that stocks of forest products are not increasing significantly in most countries. Hence, carbon accounting for wood products is not required, although the amount of wood harvested for biofuels is necessary for estimating non-CO2 gases and reporting these emissions in the energy sector. The Workbook does not account for the effects of forest fires and other disturbances.
The Reporting Instructions provide a range of definitions for anthropogenic activities, a glossary of terms, and tables to report anthropogenic emissions and removals of GHGs. The tables are flexible enough to allow for reporting of all carbon pools, even if the Guidelines do not provide accounting methods and default data. This flexibility in reporting contributes to completeness by facilitating the reporting of all carbon pools, though it does not necessarily contribute to inventory comparability.

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