IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

9.8 Technology, R&D, deployment, diffusion and transfer

R&D and technology transfer have a potential to promote forest sector mitigation options by increasing sustainable productivity, conserving biodiversity and enhancing profitability. Technologies are available for promoting mitigation options from national level to forest stand level, and from single forest practices to broader socio-economic approaches (IPCC, 2000b).

Traditional and/or existing techniques in forestry including planting, regeneration, thinning and harvesting are fundamental for implementation of mitigation options such as afforestation, reforestation, and forest management. Further, improvement of such sustainable techniques is required and transfer could build capacity in developing countries. Biotechnology may have an important role especially for afforestation and reforestation. As the area of planted forests including plantations of fast-growing species for carbon sequestration increases, sustainable forestry practices will become more important for both productivity and environment conservation.

The development of suitable low-cost technologies will be necessary for promoting thinning and mitigation options. Moreover, technology will have to be developed for making effective use of small wood, including thinned timber, in forest products and markets. Thinning and tree pruning for fuelwood and fodder are regularly conducted in many developing countries as part of local integrated forest management strategies. Although natural dynamics are part of the forest ecosystem, suppression of forest fires and prevention of insect and pest disease are important for mitigation.

Regarding technology for harvesting and procurement, mechanized forest machines such as harvesters, processors and forwarders developed in Northern Europe and North America have been used around the world for the past few decades. Mechanization under sustainable forest management seems to be effective for promoting mitigation options including product and energy substitution (Karjalainen and Asikainen, 1996). However, harvesting and procurement systems vary due to terrain, type of forest, infrastructure and transport regulations, and appropriate systems also vary by regions and countries. Reduced impact logging is considered in some cases such as in tropical forests (Enters et al., 2002).

There is a wide array of technologies for using biomass from plantations for direct combustion, gasification, pyrolysis, and fermentation (see Section To conserve forest resources, recycling of wood waste material needs to be expanded. Technology for manufacturing waste-derived board has almost been established, but further R&D will be necessary to re-use waste sawn timber, or to recycle it as lumber. While these technologies often need large infrastructure and incentives in industrialized countries, practical devices such as new generations of efficient wood-burning cooking stoves (Masera et al., 2005) have proved effective in developing countries. They are effective as a means to reduce the use of wood fuels derived from forests, at the same time providing tangible sustainable development benefits for local people, such as reduction in indoor air pollution levels.

Technological R&D for estimation of carbon stocks and fluxes is fundamental not only for monitoring but also for evaluating policies. Practical methods for estimating carbon stocks and fluxes based on forest inventories and remote sensing have been recommended in the Good Practice Guidance for LULUCF (IPCC, 2003). Over the last three decades, earth observation satellites have increased in number and sophistication (DeFries et al., 2006). High-resolution satellite images have become available, so new research on remote sensing has begun on using satellite radar and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) for estimating forest biomass (Hirata et al., 2003). Remote sensing methods are expected to play an increasing role in future assessments, especially as a tool for mapping land cover and its change over time. However, converting these maps into estimates of carbon sources and sinks remains a challenge and will continue to depend on in-situ measurements and modelling.

Large-scale estimations of the forest sector and its carbon balance have been carried out with models such as the CBM-CFS2 (Kurz and Apps, 2006), CO2FIX V.2 model (Masera et al., 2003), EFISCEN (Nabuurs et al., 2005, 2006), Full CAM (Richards and Evans, 2004), and GORCAM (Schlamadinger and Marland, 1996).

Micrometeorological observation of carbon dioxide exchange between the terrestrial ecosystem and the atmosphere has been carried out in various countries (Ohtani, 2005). Based on the observation, a global network FLUXNET (Baldocchi et al., 2001) and regional networks including AmeriFlux, EUROFLUX, AsiaFlux and OzNet are being enlarged for stronger relationships.

New technologies for monitoring and verification including remote sensing, carbon flux modelling, micrometeorological observation and socio-economic approaches described above will facilitate the implementation of mitigation options. Furthermore, the integration of scientific knowledge, practical techniques, socio-economic and political approaches will become increasingly significant for mitigation technologies in the forest sector.

Few forest-based mitigation analyses have been conducted using primary data. There is still limited insight regarding impacts on soils, lack of integrated views on the many site-specific studies, hardly any integration with climate impact studies, and limited views in relation to social issues and sustainable development. Little new effort was reported on the development of global baseline scenarios of land-use change and their associated carbon balance, against which mitigation options could be examined. There is limited quantitative information on the cost-benefit ratios of mitigation interventions.

Technology deployment, diffusion and transfer in the forestry sector provide a significant opportunity to help mitigate climate change and adapt to potential changes in the climate. Apart from reducing GHG emissions or enhancing the carbon sinks, technology transfer strategies in the forest sector have the potential to provide tangible socio-economic and local and global environmental benefits, contributing to sustainable development (IPCC, 2000b). Especially, technologies for improving productivity, sustainable forest management, monitoring, and verification are required in developing countries. However, existing financial and institutional mechanism, information and technical capacity are inadequate. Thus, new policies, measures and institutions are required to promote technology transfer in the forest sector.

For technology deployment, diffusion and transfer, governments could play a critical role in: a) providing targeted financial and technical support through multilateral agencies (World Bank, FAO, UNDP, UNEP), in developing and enforcing the regulations to implement mitigation options; b) promoting the participation of communities, institutions and NGOs in forestry projects; and c) creating conditions to enable the participation of industry and farmers with adequate guidelines to ensure forest management and practices as mitigation options. In addition, the role of private sector funding of projects needs to be promoted under the new initiatives, including the proposed flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol. The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) could fund projects that actively promote technology transfer and capacity building in addition to the mitigation aspects (IPCC, 2000b).