Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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5.5. Associated Impacts (Benefits and Costs) of LULUCF Projects

Several authors have noted that LULUCF projects to reduce or offset GHG emissions can also provide significant environmental and socioeconomic "co-benefits" to host countries and local communities (Makundi, 1997; Brown, 1998; Frumhoff et al., 1998; Trexler and Associates, 1998; Klooster and Masera, 2000; Lasco and Pulhin, 2000; Losos, 2000; Reid, 2000). Because the scale of such projects is prospectively large (Section 5.1), they may have substantial potential to help countries meet multiple sustainable development objectives. Some authors have also expressed concern, however, that some types of LULUCF projects pose significant risk of negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts (e.g., Cullet and Kameri-Mbote, 1998; German Advisory Council on Global Change, 1998).
This section follows on the general assessment of sustainable development aspects of LULUCF measures in Section 2.5 to address the following project-specific questions: What are the environmental and socioeconomic implications of different LULUCF project types? Do any of these projects pose inherently negative or positive impacts?

Representative data on the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of several LULUCF projects carried out under the AIJ Pilot Phase are provided in Box 5-1. Relatively few AIJ LULUCF projects to date have provided detailed quantification of observed and expected local socioeconomic impacts (Witthoeft-Muehlmann, 1998). The assessment in this section draws on available pilot project data and information from similar LULUCF projects in its evaluation of associated impacts.

5.5.1. Associated Impacts of Project Activities that Avoid Emissions

Pilot LULUCF projects that are designed to avoid emissions by reducing deforestation and forest degradation have produced marked environmental and socioeconomic co-benefits, including biodiversity conservation, protection of watershed and water resources, improved forest management and local capacity building, and employment in local enterprises. Substantial biodiversity benefits, for example, have been realized in the Rio Bravo project in northwestern Belize (Box 5-1) and the AES Barbers Point carbon-offset project in Paraguay (Dixon et al., 1993), where protection of 56,800 ha of tropical forest can conserve existing biodiversity and restore native flora lost from logging activities.

Although any LULUCF project that slows deforestation or degradation will help to conserve biodiversity, successful projects in threatened forests that contain assemblages of species that are unusually rich, globally rare, or unique to that region can provide the greatest biodiversity co-benefits (Dinerstein et al., 1995; Olson and Dinerstein, 1998). One example is the Noel Kempff Mercado carbon-offset project in Bolivia: In a region of globally outstanding biological distinctiveness, a 634,000 ha timber concession has been converted into an extension of a national park (Dinerstein et al., 1995; USIJI, 1997b; Box 5-3).

Projects that are designed to protect natural forests from land conversion or degradation could pose significant costs to some stakeholders if they restrict options for alternative land uses, such as crop production. Such costs might be mitigated, however, by siting projects in regions where conservation measures are consistent with regional land-use policies and by promoting sustainable agricultural intensification on associated non-forested lands. Indeed, forest conservation projects in areas where policies encourage agricultural expansion are unlikely to be successful. Critical to shaping project success in meeting carbon mitigation and sustainable development goals is effective participation by local communities affected by project activities (Section 5.6). In the Noel Kempff Mercado project, this local participation includes community-run revolving funds financed by the project that provide loans for local sustainable development enterprises such as ecotourism, bakeries, and hearts-of-palm production (Brown et al., 2000).

LULUCF projects that protect forests from land conversion or degradation in key watersheds have substantial potential to slow soil erosion, protect water resources for rural communities and municipalities (Reid, 2000), and conserve biodiversity (Hardner, 1996; Frumhoff et al., 1998; Hardner et al., 2000). Benefits can also include reduced risk of flood damage and reduced siltation of rivers; the latter can protect fisheries and investments in hydroelectric power generation facilities (Chomitz and Kumari, 1998). One AIJ pilot project that is designed to provide these benefits is Costa Rica's PFP (Subak, 2000).

Several AIJ pilot carbon offset projects include measures to reduce the impacts of logging and more generally improve the sustainability of forest management (Brown, 1998). As evidenced by the RIL project in Sabah, Malaysia, such projects can combine reduced carbon emissions with reductions in the environmental impacts of commercial logging, as well as socioeconomic development through technical training (Putz and Pinard, 1993; Pinard and Putz, 1996, 1997).

The carbon benefits and the associated environmental benefits of reduced-impact logging are captured only in forest sites that otherwise would have been logged by conventional methods or converted to agriculture; such benefits would not be gained in forests that otherwise would have been unlogged. In developing countries, such projects also might slow deforestation under some conditions by making long-term timber production more profitable than forest clearing for low-productivity agriculture or pasture (e.g., Boscolo et al., 1997).

Projects that are designed to promote reduced-impact logging as a carbon offset may produce fewer biodiversity co-benefits than forest protection, but they provide larger socioeconomic benefits for local owners (Kurz et al., 1997; Marland et al., 1997; Bawa and Seidler, 1998; Frumhoff and Losos, 1998; Klooster and Masera, 2000). Policymakers may wish to identify and consider prospective tradeoffs between meeting these objectives on a national basis and meeting them on a project-by-project basis.

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