Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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The terms "land cover" and "land use" are often confused. Land cover is "the observed physical and biological cover of the earth's land, as vegetation or man-made features." In contrast, land use is "the total of arrangements, activities, and inputs that people undertake in a certain land cover type" (FAO, 1997a; FAO/UNEP, 1999). National categories of land use differ, but many have been harmonized under the influence of FAO's periodical World Census of Agriculture (Table 2-1). Categories of land cover/use systems are used in Chapter 4 (Section 4.4) to illustrate the expected potential for carbon sequestration from a change in system management (e.g., intensification or extensification) or upon conversion from one category to another.

Table 2-1: Land-use categories recognized in FAO's World Census of Agriculture (FAO, 1986, 1995a; FAO/UNEP, 1999).

In Sequence of Increasing Intensity of Use Chapter 4 Equivalents

(a) Deserts (barren land and waste land) -

(b) Non-Forest Wooded Lands (scrubland; may include national parks and wilderness recreational areas) -

(c) Wetlands, Non-Forest (marshes) Wetlands

(d) Land under Forest (natural forests and most non-managed woodlands) Forest Land

(e) Land under Forestry/Silviculture Forest Land

(f) Land under Shifting Cultivation (temporarily abandoned land that is not part of a holding) Agroforestry Land

(g) Land under Agroforestry (permanent use of land at holding level, but with mixed crop growing, animal herding, and tree utilization) Agroforestry Land

(h) Land with Temporary Fallow (resting for a period of time, less than 5 years, before it is planted again with annual crops) Cropland

(i) Land under Permanent Meadows and Pastures [used for herbaceous forage crops that are either managed/cultivated (pastures) or growing wild (grazing land); trees and shrubs may be present or grown purposely, but foraging is the most important use of the area; grazed woodlands] Rangeland/Grasslands

(j) Land under Temporary Meadows and Pastures (cultivated temporarily, for less than 5 years, for herbaceous forage crops, mowing, or pasturing, in alternation with arable cropping) Rangeland/Grasslands

(k) Land under Permanent Crops (perennials; cultivated with long-term crops that do not have to be replanted for several years after each harvest; harvested components are not timber but fruits, latex, and other products that do not significantly harm the growth of the planted trees or shrubs: orchards, vineyards, rubber and oil palm plantations, coffee, tea, sisal, etc.) Agroforestry Land

(l) Land under Temporary Crops (annuals; cultivated with crops with a growing cycle of under 1 year, which must be newly sown or planted for further production after harvesting; not only small grain crops such as beets, wheat, and soy bean but also bi-annuals that are destroyed at harvesting, such as cassava, yams, and sugarcane; bananas are transitional to the permanent crops category) Cropland

(m) Land under Temporary Crops Requiring Wetland Conditions [wet-foot crops such as irrigated rice and jute (dry-foot crops with intermittent irrigation included in other categories)] Wetlands

(n) Land under Protective Cover (greenhouses and other urban or peri-urban intensive use, formal or informal; vegetable growing, home gardening, residential parks, golf courses, etc.) Peri-Urban Land

(o) Land under Residential/Industrial/Transportation Facilities Peri-Urban Land Forestry

A common dictionary and glossary definition of forestry is "the science, art, and practice of managing and using for human benefit the natural resources that occur on and in association with forest lands." Thus forestry is a broader term than silviculture, which refers more specifically to the planting and tending of growing trees. For the purposes of this Special Report, forestry is taken to include a wide range of activities in addition to those associated with silviculture, including the production of non-timber products, watershed management, wildlife protection, and eco-tourism and extending to activities such as pest control and fire management. The question remains, however: What are forest lands?

Although forest land has many national definitions, many of these definitions have the following in common: "All lands bearing vegetative associations dominated by trees of any size, exploited or not, capable of producing wood or other forest products, of exerting an influence on climate or on water regime, or providing shelter for livestock or wildlife. Includes lands which have been clear-cut or burned but which will be reforested in the foreseeable future. Excludes orchards, shelter belts, groups of trees along roads or city parks" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1970). Woodlands and treed wetlands that fit the minimum definitions of forest are usually included.

These definitions, however, have been developed for a variety of purposes that rarely include aspects of measuring carbon stocks and changes in stocks as required by the Protocol. Thus, Section 2.2.2 deals in more detail with the definitions of a forest and associated terms in the context of the Protocol.

2.2.2. Definitions of Forests

Forests are usually composed of many individual stands in different stages of development and with different characteristics. Thus, a forest can include a range of different forested ecosystems composed of different species and different ages and having different carbon stock densities (t C ha-1). In this Special Report, the term forest refers to the whole forest (as a landscape), including its forest stands (its component units). The term stand is used where necessary for clarity.

Many definitions of forest are in use throughout the world, reflecting wide differences in biogeophysical conditions, social structures, and economies. Lund (1999) listed about 240 such definitions. Most countries have developed very specific definitions that are suitable for their own administrative purposes and reflect their forests' ecological conditions. In seeking a set of definitions for the Protocol, it must be recognized that many national agencies have invested significantly in databases that are founded on their own definitions. Many agencies will be unwilling or unable to reformulate that information if arbitrary definitions devised to implement the Protocol are too dissimilar from their own.

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