Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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3.6.1. Afforestation and Reforestation

Converting non-forest land to forests will typically increase the diversity of flora and fauna, except in situations where biologically diverse non-forest ecosystems are replaced by forests that consist of single or a few species (e.g., plantations of monocultures and especially exotic species).

Where afforestation or reforestation is done to restore degraded lands, it also is likely to have other environmental benefits-such as reducing erosion, controlling salinization, and protecting watersheds. In dry countries, expansion of forested areas can also be viewed as a desertification-reduction activity.

Changing land uses also alters the nature of economic activity. The socioeconomic opportunities provided by the new land use (e.g., forestry) are a benefit of the change, but forgone opportunities in the previous activity (e.g., agriculture) are a cost. Social impacts can include population displacement and loss by some (often disadvantaged) section of society of the use of common property (Fearnside, 1996). The net effect of land-use change on employment, income, and equity cannot be determined a priori; it must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The social systems in each country will strongly influence the socioeconomic impacts associated with any given activity.

If a definitional scenario under which the harvest/regeneration cycle creates ARD land is adopted, efforts on LULUCF activities under Article 3.3 may concentrate on existing forests rather than creating new forests. As a result, an incentive to enhance the early growth rates of regenerating stands, such as through fertilization, could be put in place. In the FAO scenario combined with land-based accounting approach II, emissions from harvest slash are accounted if they occur during the regeneration phase. This factor could lead to an incentive to burn the harvest slash at the time of harvest. If the definitions of afforestation and reforestation exclude natural establishment of tree cover and restrict themselves to planting, the occurrence of monocultures on afforestation/reforestation land could increase. If the definition of reforestation in the FAO scenario excludes regeneration of trees after a selective cut, clear-cut management might be favored over selective-logging management.

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