Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry


Other reports in this collection

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


Chapter 3 focuses on Article 3.3 of the Kyoto Protocol. Article 3.3 identifies direct human-induced (DHI) land-use change and forestry activities for which Annex I Parties must account greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by sources and removals by sinks in the first commitment period. These activities are afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation (ARD). The implementation of Article 3.3 requires definitions for several terms and decisions on carbon accounting rules. Chapter 3, which builds on the general concepts introduced in Chapter 2, identifies issues, describes various options to address these issues, and summarizes the implications of the options.



Definitions

The term "ARD land" is used in this report, for simplicity, to define areas on which ARD activities have occurred since 1990 and for which carbon stock changes are to be calculated. Key to the identification of ARD lands under Article 3.3 is the definition of a forest coupled with definitions of afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation. The individual definitions of these terms addressed in Sections 2.2.2 and 2.2.3 provide a basis for the discussion in this chapter.

This chapter introduces a series of definitional scenarios to illustrate the implications of several combinations of different definitions of forest and ARD. These scenarios were selected to illustrate the range of possible approaches that could be used to define the key terms necessary for implementing Article 3.3 and the implications of employing these definitions. Although many definitional scenarios could have been developed, seven have been chosen and are discussed in detail. Two of the definitional scenarios are based on existing Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) definitions and definitions listed in the Glossary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines. The other five scenarios were selected to represent a broad range of plausible combinations of definitions that could be applied under Article 3.3. All of these scenarios are listed in Table 3-1.


Table 3-1: Descriptions and implications of definitional scenarios.

Definitional Scenario Description   General Implications

FAO Forest: Lands that have, or will have because of continued growth, more than 10% canopy cover. Deforestation is decline of canopy cover to below 10%, but excludes changes within the forest class; reforestation is artificial establishment of forest on lands that had them previously (including regeneration post-harvest); afforestation is artificial establishment of forest on lands that were not historically forest.   1) Deforestation between 1990 and 2008 followed by reforestation can create credits.
2) Degradation/aggradation unaccounted for if canopy cover threshold not crossed.
3) Harvest/regeneration cycle may create large areas of ARD lands. Many countries will report a debit for harvest/regeneration cycles, unless rotation periods are very short or if an activity-based carbon accounting approach is used.
4) If carbon accounting starts in 2008, conversion of high carbon-density forests, degradation, and aggradation in commitment period are covered.
5) Creates potential for inconsistency between Articles 3.3 and 3.7.

IPCC Forest: As in FAO definition. Reforestation and afforestation are a land-use change from non-forest to forest through planting and differ only in that afforested lands never contained forest. Reforestation does not include regeneration post-harvest. Deforestation is conversion of forest to non-forest.  

1 and 2 apply.

6) Harvest/regeneration cycle does not create ARD lands.
7) Only changes between forest and non-forest create ARD land<


Land Use Forest: Defined administratively or based on specific land-use activities. Deforestation is conversion of forest to non-forest; reforestation and afforestation are the activities that lead to conversion of non-forest to forest.  

1, 6, and 7 apply.

8) Carbon stock changes might not be considered as ARD activities if land-use classification remains unchanged.


Land Cover Forest: As in FAO definition except that regrowing stands that are below the canopy cover threshold are not counted as forest. Deforestation is conversion of forest to non-forest; afforestation and reforestation are reestablishment of minimum canopy cover.  

1, 2, and 5 apply

9) Kyoto land created only when canopy cover threshold is crossed; therefore, the time when ARD land is created differs from the FAO scenario.
10) Harvest/regeneration cycle may create large areas of ARD lands. Many countries will report a debit for harvest/regeneration cycles, unless rotation periods are very short (< 20 years).
11) Conversion of high carbon-density forests, degradation, and aggradation in commitment period are covered.


Flexible Forest: As in FAO definition, but countries have flexibility in choosing the threshold (e.g., based on carbon content of aboveground living woody biomass (t C ha-1), tree height, and/or canopy cover). Afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation defined as in IPCC scenario, but natural regeneration is included in AR.  

1, 2, 6, and 7 apply.

12) Gives countries flexibility in selecting a definition of forest. Allows use of existing data, reducing costs. Countries could choose threshold to maximize credits or minimize debits.


Degradation/
Aggradation
Forest: Defined in carbon density or canopy cover classes (e.g., 10 to <40%, 40 to <70% canopy cover). Deforestation is decrease in canopy cover or carbon density at maturity from one class to another. Reforestation is the reverse, and afforestation is establishment of forest on lands that were non-forest for a predefined period.  

1, 6, and 11 apply.

13) Acknowledges differences in ecosystems by allowing creation of ARD land in cases that would be missed by use of a uniform threshold.
14) Implementation is complex; difficult to establish geographically specific land cover or carbon density at maturity for different times.


Biome Forest: As in FAO definition, but threshold in the definition of forest is specified by biome through, for example, an international expert panel. Afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation defined as in IPCC scenario, but natural regeneration is included in AR.   1, 2, 6, 7, and 11 apply.

The definitions of ARD and forest used to implement Article 3.3 will affect the area of land covered by this Article. These definitions can also affect the area of land on which activities covered by Article 3.4 (see Chapter 4) could take place, assuming that no activity is to be counted under both Articles at the same time. For example, if the definition of reforestation does not include regeneration following clear-cut harvesting, ARD lands would be limited and more activities related to forest management could be considered under Article 3.4. The definitional scenarios illustrate how the harvest/regeneration cycle could be included or excluded from coverage under Article 3.3 through the use of different definitions of ARD and forest.

This chapter examines the implications of the definitional scenarios and identifies the key decisions. Eight such decisions, the options for each, and the implications of each option are outlined in Table 3-2. Although all combinations of options are possible, some combinations will create situations in which carbon stock changes reported under Article 3.3 will not reflect their actual contribution to the changes in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.


Table 3-2: Issues, options, and implications related to definition of ARD activities.

Issue   Options and Implications

What should be the basis for the definition of forest? (Section 3.2, Table 3-4, and Section 2.2.2.1)  

Vegetation characteristics

  • Compatible with some countries' methods for identifying forests.
  • If based on actual vegetation characteristics, land status after clear-cut harvest is always non-forest. If potential vegetation characteristics are used, land status after clear-cut harvest is forest if vegetation is expected to return above threshold.
  • Assessment of forest/non-forest based on objective, measurable criteria.

Land-use or administrative characteristics

  • Compatible with some countries' methods for identifying forests.
  • Land-use designation would not necessarily reflect actual carbon stocks on the land.
  • Change in land-use designation will create ARD land, which may or may not be associated with a change in carbon stocks.

Should the criterion that distinguishes forest from non-forest vary by biome or by country, or be the same for all Annex I countries?
(Section 3.2 and Table 3-4)
 

By biome

  • Threshold values must be determined for major vegetation types and/or ecosystems.
  • Differences in vegetation types are taken into account.
  • More compatible with national vegetation surveys.

By country

  • One threshold value chosen by each country, allowing use of existing data.
  • Some vegetation types and land uses that would be regarded as forest in some countries may be classified as non-forest in others.

Same for all Annex I countries

  • Universal threshold would be applied for all ecosystem types and climatic zones.
  • Does not take into account differences between ecosystems and climatic zones.

Should a maximum spatial assessment unit be specified?
(Sections 3.4.2 and 3.4.4)
 

Yes

  • If the spatial assessment unit is relatively large:
    • ARD activities affecting areas within the assessment unit may not be registered (e.g., deforestation of 89 ha within an assessment unit of 100 ha, using a crown cover threshold of 10%). This is "conservative" for AR, but underestimates emissions for D.
    • Monitoring costs would be low.
  • If the spatial assessment unit is relatively small:
    • Most ARD activities will be captured.
    • Monitoring costs could be high.

No

  • The same issues will arise as under Yes, but countries' data will not be comparable because their decisions on the size of assessment units may vary.

Should the definition of "reforestation" include or exclude reestablishment of tree cover after clear-cut harvesting?
(Section 3.2, Table 3-4, and Section 2.2.3.2)

 

Include

  • Area of ARD land will be large because areas will be added as they undergo a harvest/regeneration cycle.
  • Will result in unbalanced accounting at stand and landscape levels if harvesting is not considered deforestation; actual carbon stock changes will not match reported changes (see "Landscape Level" subsection in Executive Summary).

Exclude

  • Relatively small areas of most Annex I countries will become ARD land.
  • There will be balanced accounting at stand and landscape levels.

Should (re)establishment of forests through natural means be considered a form of afforestation or reforestation?
(Section 3.2, Table 3-4, and Section 2.2.3.2)
 

Yes

  • Allows for consideration of natural regeneration, which accounts for 60% of all areas restocked in Annex I countries (82% when regeneration enhanced by planting is included; the rest is planting).
  • Will result in more ARD area compared to the No option.
  • May encourage natural regeneration methods, which lead to improved biodiversity.

No

  • Restricts afforestation and reforestation to planting activities only.
  • Problems in distinguishing direct human-induced reforestation/afforestation are reduced because any planting or seeding activity is likely to be called direct human-induced.
  • Results in less ARD area compared to the Yes option.

Should Article 3.3 include degradation/aggradation of forest land?
(Section 3.2, Table 3-4, and Sections 2.2.3.4 and 2.2.3.5)
 

Yes

  • Accounts for stock changes that otherwise would not be reported.
  • Encourages sustainable forest management.
  • Distinguishing silvicultural measures (e.g., thinning) from degradation/aggradation may be difficult, increasing the possibility that stock changes will be double-counted (under both Articles 3.3 and 3.4).

No

  • Implementation is simplified.
  • Activities that significantly affect long-term forest cover without crossing a single crown-cover threshold, as well as associated stock changes, are ignored under Article 3.3.
  • These activities may still be covered by Article 3.4.

Should the qualifier "direct human-induced" refer only to ARD activities, or also to stock changes resulting from these ARD activities?
(Sections 3.3.2.1, 2.3.3.1, and 2.3.3.2)
 

Refer only to ARD activities

  • All stock changes on ARD land are accounted.
  • Easier to implement.

Refer to ARD activities and resultant stock changes

  • Only a part of the stock changes on ARD land are accounted.
  • Changes in stocks are very difficult to attribute to direct human-induced activities vs. indirect or natural effects (e.g., CO2 fertilization, N deposition).
  • Large uncertainty associated with stock changes and great difficulty verifying them because estimates would heavily rely on the use of models.

How should "land-use change" in Article 3.7 be defined in relation to definition of ARD in Article 3.3?
(Section 3.3.2.8)
 

Define both ARD and "land-use change" as transitions between "forest" and "non-forest"

  • Net-net approach (emissions and removals counted in commitment period and compared against those in 1990) for Article 3.3 activities for LULUCF source countries.

Define ARD as transition between "forest" and "non-forest;" define "land-use change" as transition between, for example, the 15 land categories in Chapter 2 (see Table 2-1)

  • Net-net approach for Article 3.3 activities for LULUCF source countries.
  • Net-net approach for Article 3.4 activities possible for LULUCF source countries, if Article 3.4 activities are defined as "land-use changes."
Define ARD broadly to include regeneration after harvest; define "land-use change" to include conversions either between "forest" and "non-forest" or between the 15 land categories
  • Net-net approach for ARD activities that are a forest/non-forest transition.
  • Gross-net approach (emissions and removals counted in commitment period but not compared against those in 1990) for all other ARD activities, such as regeneration after harvest.



Other reports in this collection

IPCC Homepage