Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

Other reports in this collection

2.4.6. Preparations for and Operational Strategy during the First Commitment Period

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 Kyoto Protocol.

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 to evolve.
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 data sets.

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.

Other reports in this collection

IPCC Homepage