Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

Other reports in this collection Identification of Carbon Pools

Possible criteria affecting the selection of carbon pools to inventory and monitor are the type of project; the size of the pool, its rate of change, and its direction of change; the availability of appropriate methods; the cost to measure; and attainable accuracy and precision (MacDicken, 1997a,b). A selective or partial accounting system can be used; such a system must include all pools expected to decrease and a choice of pools expected to increase as a result of the project (Hamburg, 2000). Only measured (or estimated from a measured parameter) and monitored pools are incorporated into the calculation of GHG benefits. Carbon benefits are calculated as the net differences between selected pools for the with- and without-project baseline conditions on the same piece of land over a specified time period.

The major carbon pools in LULUCF projects are live biomass, dead biomass, soil, and wood products; each of these pools can be subdivided further (e.g., live biomass may include leaves, twigs, branches, stems, coarse and fine roots of trees, herbaceous plants, shrubs, and vines-see Chapter 2 for further details). Table 5-7 illustrates how decisions about which pools to choose for quantification and monitoring may be made for different types of LULUCF projects. Accurately and precisely measuring soil carbon pools presents several challenges; of the projects listed in Table 5-7, however, the soil carbon pool need be measured in only two cases (Y).

Table 5-7: Decision matrix of main carbon pools for examples of land-use and forestry projects to illustrate selection of pools to quantify and monitor. Y = yes, indicating that the change in this pool is likely to be large and should be measured. R = recommended, indicating that the change in the pool could be significant but measuring costs to achieve desired levels of precision could be high. N = no, indicating that the change is likely small to none thus not necessary to measure this pool. M indicates that the change in this pool may need to be measured depending on forest type and/or management intensity of the project.

  Carbon Pools
Project Type Live Biomass Dead Biomass Soil Wood
Trees Herbaceous Roots Fine Coarse

Avoid Emissions
- Stop deforestation Y M R M Y R M
- Reduced-impact logging Y M R M Y M M
- Improved forest management Y M R M Y M Y
Sequester Carbon
- Plantations Y N R M M R Y
- Agroforestry Y Y M N N R M
- Soil carbon management N N M M N Y N
Carbon Substitution
- Short-rotation energy plantations Y N M N N Y *

* Stores carbon in unburned fossil fuels.

Table 5-8 includes a selection of projects and their measured or estimated carbon pools (for other project details, see Table 5-1 and Box 5-1). Although soil carbon is measured in two of the emission avoidance projects, using these data for calculating the carbon benefits could be problematic. In the NKCAP, for example, the soil carbon benefits from averted deforestation could be calculated as the difference between the soil carbon in the project area and soil carbon in a nearby reference area. Without careful selection of the reference site, its average soil carbon could be higher or lower than the average of the project area solely because of variability in soil characteristics rather than human management. Thus, simply subtracting the forest soil carbon from the agriculture soil carbon would give erroneous carbon offsets.

Table 5-8: Main carbon pools measured in a selection of forest-based pilot carbon-offset projects. Y means the pool was measured, N means it was not measured, and E means it was estimated from field measurements and literature data.

Project Type Carbon Pools
Trees Herbaceous/Understory Roots Dead Fine Coarse Soil Wood Products

Avoid Emissions
- Noel Kempff Climate Y Y E Y Y Y E
Action Project, Boliviaa
- Reduced-Impact Logging, Y Y Y Y Y N N
Sabah, Malaysiab
- Rio Bravo Carbon
Sequestration Projectc
Sequester Carbon
- Farm Forestry Scolel Te Pilot Y N N N N Y N
Project, Chiapas, Mexicod
- FACE, Malaysiae Y Y E Y Y N N
- PAP/PFP, Costa Ricaf E E E N N N N
- Guaraqueçaba Climate Y Y E Y Y N N
Action Project, Brazilg

a Brown et al. (2000).
b Pinard and Putz (1997).
c Programme for Belize (1997).
d de Jong et al. (1997).
e Moura-Costa (1993 1996a).
f SGS (1998).
g Brown et al. (1999b).

Other reports in this collection

IPCC Homepage