All land-based carbon mitigation projects require estimation of net carbon stock gains resulting from the implementation of project activities. It is important to recognize that even in the absence of a proposed project, carbon stock will change because of natural factors or human intervention. This fact requires estimation of carbon stock changes that would have occurred in the absence of the proposed project, a situation or scenario referred to as the "baseline". A baseline needs to be developed for all projects against which project results can be compared and additional benefits estimated. According to the UNFCCC "the baseline for project activity is the scenario that reasonably represents anthropogenic emissions by sources and removal by sinks that would occur in the absence of the proposed project activity" (UNFCCC 2002). The baseline scenario is also often referred to as the reference or business-as-usual scenario. Estimating and projecting baseline carbon stocks is a difficult task since all potential future scenarios in the absence of the project must be evaluated. Establishing the baseline scenario therefore requires knowledge of the history of the given area, local socio-economic situation, and ongoing and wider economic trends (national, regional or even global) that may affect future land use and carbon stocks (Fig. 6.1).
Carbon stocks on the land when the project starts, often referred to as the base year, can serve as the baseline if it can be demonstrated that changes to business-as-usual activities in the foreseeable future (i.e. 10-30 years) are unlikely to impact carbon stocks. The baseline is established by projecting these past trends, current situation and future plans. Consequently, a baseline scenario is necessarily based on a range of assumptions.
P Project scenario carbon stocks
B Baseline scenario carbon stocks
B (R) Baseline scenario re-estimated carbon stocks
B (S) Stable baseline carbon stocks
P (R) Project scenario re-estimated carbon stocks
Fig. 6.1 (a) Conceptual diagram of baseline and project scenario carbon stocks for afforestation and reforestation projects, where project implementation leads to enhancement of carbon stocks. (b) Conceptual diagram of baseline and project scenario carbon stocks for avoided deforestation projects, where project implementation ensures that existing carbon stocks are maintained.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.