2.4.6. Preparations for and Operational Strategy during the First Commitment
Although methods exist for measuring stocks of carbon and fluxes of CO2 and
non-CO2 GHGs, implementation of these methods will require investments in human
resources, technology, and infrastructure. First-time forest inventories, for
example, will require calibration and validation of allometric relationships
between merchantable wood volumes and total carbon in the ecosystem, including
roots, small trees, and ground cover. Soil carbon models must be developed and
tested against local or regional conditions. For remote-sensing data in particular,
implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, even for the first commitment period,
will require making observational systems operational, establishing international
policies for sharing data, and building human resources and infrastructure.
Remote-sensing methods (Section 2.4.4) currently are
largely confined to the scientific community. In only a few cases is remote-sensing
information routinely being used by operational agencies to classify vegetation,
to estimate rates and extent of forest clearing and regrowth, or to detect fires.
Because methods do exist for many of the measurement tasks, however, a particular
challenge that Parties may wish to consider is the development of an operational
use of satellite data. Skole et al. (1997) provided an early view of
what some of the requirements of such an operational system might be, from a
technical and organizational perspective. Several critical challenges must be
met, however, if such systems are to be routinely used in the context of the
Institutional and national commitments will be necessary to ensure that the
basic means of making remote-sensing observations do, in fact, exist. The satellite
systems and capabilities described in Section 2.4.4 currently
are treated as research missions. The transition to operational status-balancing
the need for continuous, comparable observations with the need to allow the
technology to evolve-has not occurred for land observations to the same degree
that it has occurred for basic meteorological measurements.
Provisions for archiving spatial data are also required. All of the methods
and accounting systems described in this Special Report require maintenance
of a historical record of what has occurred. If remote sensing is used to help
in those determinations, access to historical data will certainly be necessary.
In addition, the scientific community's ability to extract information from
the data set should be expected to continue to evolve as algorithms themselves
evolve. Maintenance of a data archive would ensure that nations are able to
examine their records again as their understanding of their own situations continues
Human resources and infrastructure required to exploit remotely sensed data
will need to be established and made available to Parties. Although there has
been substantial progress over the past decade in making new remotely sensed
data and GIS tools for analysis available, as well as in the development of
analytical methods and technologies, substantial hurdles still exist in terms
of human capital. Education and training programs would be required to ensure
that all Parties have sufficient access to expertise and methods for using these
Finally, the enormous capital expenses and consistent operational expenses
are large enough that only a handful of nations may be expected to bear them.
If other Parties also are to benefit from the observations, policies and procedures
for sharing the data and information derived from them will have to be agreed
on. Again, the question of how satellite data will be used for primary reporting
and for verification must be addressed.