6.3. Adequacy of the IPCC Guidelines for Reporting National Activities under
the Kyoto Protocol
This section assesses the adequacy of the Guidelines in relation to activities
under Articles 3.3 and 3.4. It begins with a discussion of reporting issues
common to ARD, then addresses issues that are specific to deforestation.
6.3.1. Afforestation, Reforestation, and Deforestation
under Article 3.3
188.8.131.52. Generic Issues on Afforestation, Reforestation,
In the Guidelines, stock changes arising from afforestation and reforestation
activities are reported under the same category, "Changes in forest and woody
biomass stocks." For accounting purposes, there is no distinction between afforestation
and reforestation; the same method is used for both. Deforestation can be dealt
with separately, according to the principles for accounting of "Forest and Grassland
Conversion." Chapter 2 explores a range of possible definitions
of ARD. Chapter 3 further explores a wide range of definitional
scenarios, including that of the FAO. If Parties choose the IPCC definitions,
afforestation and reforestation can be dealt with using the principles in the
Guidelines. For discussion only, this section assumes that the principles of
afforestation and reforestation are the same as those in the Guidelines.
There would be implications for all three ARD activities if Parties were to
adopt an extension beyond the Workbook. Carbon pools are limited to changes
in aboveground biomass and soil carbon in the Workbook. Additional carbon pools
are discussed in and can be accounted for using the approach laid out in the
Reference Manual. According to the rules, modalities, and guidelines agreed
to under Articles 3.3 and 5.2, however, Parties may decide that accounting methods
for these additional carbon pools may need to be developed and provided in the
The calculations in the Workbook do not explicitly link the aboveground biomass
and soil carbon pools for a specific activity. To resolve this issue, reporting
of ARD for aboveground and below-ground biomass could be geographically explicit
(mapped) or linked through modeling, or the accounting methods for these pools
could be slightly modified. The same principle would apply to the linking of
other carbon pools, such as more complete treatment of surface soil litter,
below-ground biomass, and wood products (see Section
6.3.3). Geographically explicit reporting and modification of accounting
methods are not expected to be difficult to implement, although data can be
expensive to obtain on a large scale, however, even for Parties with a good
deal of scientific infrastructure (see Chapter 3). Furthermore,
the data would have to be reported at appropriate time intervals in all cases
and with consideration of the "since 1990" time clause.
All three ARD activities cause changes in aboveground biomass. Closely linked
to the issue of ARD is the definition of forests, which has implications for
lands that are included in an inventory (see Chapters 2
and 3). If Parties adopt definitions for forests other
than the existing ones, the Guidelines may have to be improved to account for
the new definitions. Changing these definitions by forest ecosystem or crown
cover is unlikely to have significant implications on the Guidelines; the approach
for estimating changes in aboveground biomass is expected to remain similar.
If Parties adopted definitions of ARD activities that differed from the IPCC
definitions, however, more significant improvements to the Guidelines might
be required-depending on how the regeneration and harvest cycle were treated,
If a land-based accounting system (Chapter 2) were to
apply, a generic issue for ARD is that there may be a need to separately identify
land into ARD categories and report land categorization in 1990, as well as
in the commitment period. The optimum size of the landscape unit at which ARD
activities may be detected is another consideration (Chapter
If an activity-based accounting system (Chapter 3) were
to apply, another solution might be possible. Differentiation among categories
can be made at the beginning of a commitment period (in 2008, in the first instance)
on the basis of activities implemented prior to 2008. In this system, the impact
of an activity on carbon stocks could be tracked and summed per unit area. Carbon
stocks would be more difficult to verify under this system, however, than those
tracked under a land-based accounting system (see Chapter
For reporting of ARD under both the land-based or activity-based systems, the
activities and the areas subject to these activities since 1 January 1990 would
have to be identified. The Guidelines do not currently apply this time clause
to such land areas. The Guidelines require the use of land areas and ARD activities
to estimate changes in carbon stock, however; hence, either a land-based or
activity-based system could be used to track aboveground biomass and soil carbon.
To more accurately account for changes in carbon stocks under ARD, a finer
level of geographic detail and subcategories may be appropriate. Stocks estimates
could be improved by reflecting forest management type, species, soil type,
and so forth, as well as by substituting default assumptions with national or
region-specific data and assumptions from local sources (IPCC, 1997, Vol. 3,
On the other hand, if changes in stocks associated with ARD activities were
reported at aggregated levels, reporting could be made geographically explicit
at an appropriate scale, with geo-referencing of stocks according to species,
forest type, and age of stand. The same principle applies with regard to verifying
that a forest qualifies as ARD land and verifying changes in these stocks. Geo-referencing
in itself does not provide transparency. The Guidelines would not be adequate
for this purpose. A well-designed national system, together with the application
of good practice, may be needed to ensure verifiability and transparency of
In relation to ARD, examples of data or assumptions that may be reported include
- Forest inventories at the required level of accuracy (IPCC, 1997, Vol. 3,
p. 5.16). New methods based on satellite and aerial photography are also available
for large-scale measurements, but only of area. Generic treatment for data
quality is covered in the GPG.
- Conversion factors appropriate to categories of forests (IPCC, 1997, Vol.
3, p. 5.18) for estimating tons of biomass per unit volume of commercial timber
and tons of carbon per ton of dry biomass.
- Biomass densities appropriate to the mix of species in the growing stock
of a particular region could be used, based on literature data or field measurements
(IPCC, 1997, Vol. 3, p. 5.22). Any default values would have to be age-class
dependent, especially because stands established since 1990 will be very young
during the commitment period, and expansion factors tend to be significantly
higher for young stands.
- The same principles apply to below-ground biomass (coarse woody roots, etc.)
and to forest litter (dead roots, slash, etc.).
All three ARD activities can affect the level of soil carbon. Although the
Guidelines can be readily applied to account for ARD, they focus on agricultural
land use and management, rather than ARD. For comprehensive carbon accounting,
soil carbon components of soil surface litter could be included. Consideration
would have to be given to soil depth and rates of change in carbon, as appropriate.
In cropped soils, however, most changes occur in the upper 30 cm (Chapter
2), as assumed in the Workbook. In some situations, consideration of deep
soil carbon and more types of soil humus, with differing rates of decomposition,
might be necessary for ARD activities. Significant changes may occur at 30-50
cm depth-for example, in deep tropical soils (see Chapters
2 and 4), where changes in soil carbon are generally
faster than in boreal areas. Consistency in the accounting rules may need to
be established, especially if crediting for soil carbon is allowed.
With respect to soil carbon, other refinements to the Guidelines may include
- Use of soil carbon models or methods with realistic time dependencies that
reflect the soil type, moisture, and temperature conditions. In the IPCC default
method, changes are assumed to be linear in time, so a straight averaging
of past rates of change of land use is used. In the Protocol context, changes
in stock resulting from increase or decay of soil carbon could be calculated
using a time course (e.g., exponential) appropriate to the region and the
commitment period in light of local conditions. This approach will give greater
weight to more recent events.
- Use of improved soil carbon data from surveys, field studies, and long-term
agricultural experiments to replace default values.
- Use of geo-referencing to relate data on base factors, tillage factors,
and input factors and initial soil carbon content (IPCC, 1997, Vol. 2, p.
5.25) that is transparently reported with aboveground biomass changes. The
base factor refers to the change in soil organic matter that is associated
with the conversion of native vegetation to agriculture (IPCC, 1997, Vol.
3, p. 5.47). The term "initial" is used here rather than "native" to take
into account that deforestation may be of forest that had been disturbed sometime
in the historical past.
- As discussed in Section 6.3.3, changes in
carbon wood products could be considered (Winjum et al., 1998; Brown
et al., 1999).
A key question is whether averaging periods for data are appropriate. Changes
in biomass are linked to climatic fluctuations, so changes in stocks between
2008 and 2012 could be depressed or boosted by unusual weather patterns. Such
fluctuations may affect stock changes over the commitment period for afforestation
and reforestation or regrowth after deforestation. Separating the observed stock
change that is directly human-induced from the influence of indirect causes
and natural variability is generally difficult. One possibility is the use of
default data to smooth out the effects of natural variability and extreme climatic
events. This use of default data would deviate, however, from the principles
of the Guidelines.
Because the Guidelines do not fully address the issue of uncertainties (Lim
et al., 1999b), the reporting of ARD activities could be modified to
include treatment of uncertainties and methods for error propagation-using,
for example, Monte Carlo analyses or standardized calculation methods. Uncertainties
in measurements of stocks at two points in time (e.g., 2008 and 2012) may cancel
out for systematic errors. Under the gross-net approach of Article 3.3, however,
the uncertainties would not cancel out for 1990 and the commitment period: For
1990, the uncertainties would comprise the non-LUCF sectors (gross) only, whereas
for the commitment period the uncertainties would be the net of the uncertainties
of estimates in non-LUCF and LUCF sectors.