Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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2.2. Definitions of Terms Used in the Convention and Protocol

2.2.1. Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry

The phrase "land-use change and forestry" was used in discussions leading up to the Protocol as the name for a "sector/source category." It is also used as the title of a chapter in the IPCC Guidelines. The Guidelines refer to sources and sinks associated with:

" . . . greenhouse gas emissions from human activities which

    1. Change the way land is used (e.g., clearing of forests for agricultural use, including open burning of cleared biomass), or

    2. Affect the amount of biomass in existing biomass stocks (e.g., forests, village trees, woody savannas, etc.)."

The Guidelines conclude that:

"the most important land-use changes that result in CO2 emissions and removals are

  • Changes in forest and other woody biomass stocks- The most important effects of human interactions with existing forests are considered in a single broad category, which includes commercial management, harvest of industrial roundwood (logs) and fuelwood, production and use of wood commodities, and establishment and operation of forest plantations, as well as planting of trees in urban, village, and other non-forest locations.
  • Forest and grassland conversion-The conversion of forests and grasslands to pasture, cropland, or other managed uses can significantly change carbon stored in vegetation and soil.
  • Abandonment of croplands, pastures, plantation forests, or other managed lands that regrow into their prior natural grassland or forest conditions.
  • Changes in soil carbon."

Some confusion arises from the use of the term "land-use change" in the IPCC Guidelines because many of the stock changes (especially in forest pools) are not associated with a change in land use. For example, "commercial management [or] harvest of industrial roundwood (logs) and fuelwood" is a land use but not a land-use change. Similarly, changes in cropping practice, such as minimum tillage that reduces soil disturbances and consequential carbon loss, are described in the IPCC Guidelines even though they are not associated with changes in land use.

The Protocol uses the phrase "land-use change and forestry" on three occasions: in Articles 3.3, 3.4, and 3.7. (Article 12 does not explicitly mention this phrase, but we make no presumption about decisions by the Parties in relation to this Article.)

Article 3.3 refers to "greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks resulting from direct human-induced land-use change and forestry activities, limited to afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation since 1990." Decision 9/CP.4 at COP4 clarified that the domain of the clause is restricted to the specified forestry activities: "The adjustment to a Party's assigned amount shall be equal to verifiable changes in carbon stocks during the period 2008 to 2012 resulting from direct human-induced activities of afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation since 1 January 1990." There is no consensus on definitions of ARD activities in the technical literature; some of the more important issues associated with their definition are discussed below and elaborated in Chapter 3.

Article 3.4 refers to "additional human-induced activities related to changes in greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks in the agricultural soils and the land-use change and forestry categories." This clause is less restrictive; it requires definitions of agricultural soils, land use (to define land-use change), and forestry. These terms are also discussed below and again in more detail in Chapter 4.

The phrase "land-use change and forestry" appears again in Article 3.7 in the context of whether this sector was a net source of GHG emissions in 1990. Later in the clause, the phrase "land-use change" is used without mention of "forestry."

The title of this Special Report incorporates the term "land use" as well as "land-use change" [COP4 decision 9/CP.4 and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA8)]. This chapter and subsequent chapters deal with situations in which significant changes in carbon stocks might occur, regardless of whether they are associated with changes in land use. Wherever possible, however, we attempt to identify whether an activity is associated with an actual land-use change.

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