Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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5.4. Measuring, Accounting, Monitoring, and Verifying GHG Benefits

Many pilot projects have been developed (see Tables 5-1 and 5-2), and much experience has been gained-particularly at the early stages of project implementation. On the basis of this experience, this section presents an assessment of the nature of measuring, monitoring, accounting, verifying, and reporting GHG benefits. Some key questions that guide this section are the following: With what accuracy and precision can GHG benefits be measured and monitored in LULUCF projects? Does the accuracy and precision of the measuring and monitoring of GHG benefits vary across project types? What are the tradeoffs between cost and precision in measuring and monitoring GHG benefits? What effects do different accounting methods have on the GHG benefits accruing to a project? How long should monitoring, verification, and reporting be pursued? How can verification costs be managed? What alternative formats are available for reporting project-level GHG benefits?

5.4.1. Methods for Quantification of Project GHG Benefits

A key aspect of implementing LULUCF projects to mitigate GHG emissions and trading is accurate and precise quantification of project-level GHG benefits. In LULUCF projects, the main focus is on carbon (as CO2) benefits, but other gases should be included as appropriate. Table 5-6 presents typical examples of generic projects, some of which could include carbon only or both carbon and non-CO2 GHG benefits (see also Chapter 4). For instance, a project designed to stop deforestation typically would include carbon benefits, but it could also include nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide benefits that would result from stopping the burning of biomass during forest clearing. Soil and agricultural projects could include non-CO2 GHGs such as nitrous oxide and methane as well. Whereas carbon benefits are generally measured as changes in carbon stocks, however, non-CO2 GHGs are measured as fluxes, and the methods are less well developed (See Chapters 1 and 2; Houghton et al., 1997); thus, the following discussion focuses on carbon (as CO2). Moreover, the example projects in Table 5-6 could vary in size and distribution; they could be contiguous, extending over hundreds to thousands of hectares, or a "bundle" of small scattered landowners each of whose total area could be hundreds of hectares.

Table 5-6: Examples of LUCF projects and their corresponding without-project case. Some of these projects could generate carbon benefits only, whereas others could generate both carbon and non-CO2 GHG benefits.

With-Project Case Without-Project Case

Stop deforestation Forest clearing for agriculture or pasture
Stop forest logging Forest with continued logging
Reduced impact logging Traditional logging with high damage
Improved forest management (e.g., longer rotations, wide buffers, shelterwood, less-intensive site preparation) Traditional management
Plantation establishment Degraded or marginal non-forested lands
- Trees and crops Annual crops
- Shade coffee Sun coffee
Soil management:  
- No to low till Traditional till
- Manure, fertilize, crop rotation Traditional practice
- Restore degraded soils Continued soil degradation
Biofuel tree plantations Marginal lands and fossil fuel use

This section discusses which pools need to be quantified, how they can be accurately measured to a known level of precision, and techniques to monitor the carbon benefits over the length of the project. The initial carbon inventory is distinguished from subsequent monitoring: In the initial inventory, the relevant major pools or fluxes are quantified; in subsequent monitoring, only selected pools or fluxes may be measured, and even indicators could be used, depending upon the type of LULUCF project.

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