Gert Jan Nabuurs

In the 1820s a farmer owned a shrublike forest and grassland parcel in the foothills of the Alps. Because of changes in his agricultural regime, he was able to convert part of his land to high forest and decided to plant Norway spruce. In this chapter, I show how this pragmatic decision 180 years ago determined the carbon balance of that piece of land through the present day.

I show how past management of the biosphere and past socioeconomic factors have determined present land use and how the past thus determines the present carbon balance of large parts of the biosphere. This process is shown through a hectare-scale example, for which I follow three alternative management options, as well as published case studies from regions around the world.

Since this past management issue is closely related to "the dynamic effects of age structure" (UNFCCC 2002) mentioned in the Marrakesh Accords to the Kyoto Protocol, I touch upon the political discussions on separating direct and indirect effects as well.

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