Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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12.1 Introduction1

Technology transfer in the forestry sector provides a significant opportunity to help mitigate climate change and adapt to potential changes in the climate. Technology transfer strategies in the forestry sector for promoting mitigation options, apart from reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or enhancing carbon sinks, have the potential to provide other tangible socio-economic and local and global environmental benefits, contributing to sustainable development. Technology is an important component of the forestry-sector mitigation options, and there are barriers to its transfer such as high cost of capital for private sector (particularly developing countries), lack of institutions to enable participation of local communities in forest protection and management (Kadekodi & Ravindranath, 1997), and land tenure policies encouraging deforestation and land degradation in many tropical countries (IPCC, 1996 TP-1). Existing financial and institutional mechanisms are inadequate, and thus new policies, measures, and institutions are required to promote technology transfer in the forestry sector.

In 1990 forests covered about 3.44 x 109 ha, a quarter of the earth's land surface (FAO, 1995). The total area under tropical forests is estimated to be 1.75 x 109 ha (51% of total global forest area) with a forest biomass roughly equal to 297 X 109 t (67.5 % of total global biomass, FAO, 1995). The world's forests store large quantities of carbon (C) with an estimated 330 GtC in live and dead above-ground biomass vegetation and 660 GtC in soil (Brown et al., 1996). Furthermore, an unknown quantity of C is stored in wood products. High and mid latitude forests are currently estimated to be a net C sink of about 0.5 to 0.9 GtC annually. Low latitude or tropical forests are estimated to be a net C source of 1.1 to 2.1 GtC annually (IPCC, 1995), largely due to clearing and degradation of forests (IPCC, 1996). Forests, in addition to being a source of carbon emissions, are also shown to have a large potential for mitigation, which is estimated to be in the range of 60-87 GtC globally over 50 years (1990 to 2040), through forest conservation (slowing deforestation), forestation, regeneration and agroforestry options. This potential is confirmed by studies conducted at the regional (Sathaye and Ravindranath, 1998; Nabuurs et al., 1998) and national levels (Xu, 1995; Masera 1995; Ravindranath and Somashekhar, 1995). The tropical forest region dominates by accounting for 45-72 GtC of mitigation potential (Brown et al., 1996).

In addition to forest C conservation and sink expansion, the forestry sector offers a large potential for C emission reduction through fossil fuel substitution. For instance, short-rotation woody crops have the potential with advances in energy conversion and yield to reduce global fossil fuel emissions by up to 20 % (Dixon et al., 1994). Further residues from timber logging and processing could also be used as feed stock for energy. A study in India has shown that biomass-based, decentralised, small-scale electricity systems alone could offset nearly a quarter of India's fossil fuel emissions (Ravindranath and Hall, 1995). Several studies have shown that forest-sector mitigation options are cost effective and the unit abatement costs are low, particularly in developing countries (Hourcade et al., 1996; Brown et al., 1996; Sathaye and Ravindranath, 1998; Masera et al., 1997a). Forest-sector mitigation options are also shown to provide multiple, local environmental, as well as socio-economic benefits, apart from C abatement (Kadekodi and Ravindranath, 1997, Masera et al., 1997b). Thus there is a large interest in promoting forest-sector mitigation options. The adoption of forestry mitigation options is subjected to technical, financial and institutional barriers (Sathaye and Ravindranath, 1998). Earlier, the IPCC assessment identified several technical options along with a set of administrative, institutional and policy barriers (IPCC, 1996). Technology, including the "software" (such as methods for monitoring forest area and protected area management practices) as well as the "hardware" (logging or processing equipment), is one of the limiting factors, in addition to lack of financial incentives for large-scale adoption of forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable forest management and fossil fuel substitution options. Article 2 of the Kyoto Protocol recommends promotion of sustainable forest management practices, including afforestation and reforestation to protect and enhance C-sinks (UNFCCC, 1997).

In this chapter, we analyse the existing and emerging technology transfer mechanisms in the forestry sector. This is followed by a consideration of the barriers to transferring ESTs, and an exploration of the institutional, financial and policy measures for promoting technology transfer in the forest-sector mitigation programmes within and between countries. It is important to recognise that technological alternatives can address only a few aspects of the strategies to promote adoption of GHG abatement programmes. For example in Brazil, slowing deforestation represents by far the most attractive option. But the traditional technological solutions can only play a modest role. (Fearnside, 1993).

Forests, in addition to being a source of C emission and having a large potential for mitigation, will be subjected to changing climate. The IPCC (1996) concluded that global models, based on 2xCO2 climate, project that a substantial fraction of the existing forests will experience climatic conditions under which they do not currently exist. Thus, large forested areas are likely to undergo changes from the current forest types to new vegetation types. A number of technological and silvicultural adaptation options have been suggested (Solomon et al., 1996; Ravindranath et al., 1997). Large uncertainties exist in making regional projections of climate change and the potential response of forest ecosystems. And, thus, in this report policies and measures required to promote transfer of adaptation technologies are only very briefly presented.

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