Carbon Inventory for Forest Grassland and Cropland Development Programmes and Projects

Globally, the rate of net forest loss was 7.3 Mha a year during 2000-2005 (FAO 2006). According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment scenarios (MEA 2005), forest area during 2000-2050 is projected to increase in the industrialized world by 60-230 Mha and decrease in the developing world by 200-490 Mha. Biodiversity, particularly from tropical forests, grassland and wetland ecosystems will continue to decline. Further, many tropical regions experience shortages of fuelwood, charcoal and construction timber, particularly for use by the vast rural communities (Ravindranath and Hall 1995). Growing demand for land for crop production and commercial cattle rearing, demand for tropical timber and more recently bioenergy has led to loss of forests in many tropical countries. Land degradation affects nearly 2,000 Mha, which includes nearly 700 Mha of land subjected to overgrazing and 550 Mha of poorly managed cropland subjected to soil erosion (UNEP 2002). Thus, in response to concerns about land degradation and loss of tropical forests and biodiversity as well as about shortages of fuelwood and construction timber, a large number of forest conservation and land development programmes and projects have been formulated and implemented all over the world. The area brought under afforestation and reforestation programmes globally was 2.8 Mha annually during 2000-2005 and the total area under plantations was about 140 Mha in 2005 (FAO 2006). Apart from degradation and loss of forests, degradation of grassland and cropland and expansion of deserts are other land-related environmental concerns. Globally, a large number of programmes have been launched for conservation, reclamation and development of grassland and cropland and for halting desertification.

The main objectives of land-based conservation and development programmes in forest, grassland and cropland categories are not directly linked to addressing climate change; these programmes are aimed at conserving biodiversity, protecting watersheds, reducing pressure on forests, increasing supply of fuelwood or industrial wood and improving soil fertility to increase grass or crop productivity. However, all these programmes and projects indirectly lead to conservation or expansion of carbon pools in biomass and in soil. Improvement in biomass and soil carbon is the most important indicator of impacts of the programmes on all land-use categories, and methods and guidelines for carbon inventory are required for the following:

• Estimation of the status of land-use categories selected for project activities before implementation of the programmes o Above-ground biomass stock and growth rates of trees and productivity of grass or annual or perennial crops o Soil fertility, in particular soil organic matter and nitrogen

• Estimation of improvement due to conservation or development activities such as afforestation, forest conservation, soil and water conservation, improved grassland management, shelterbelt and agroforestry programmes, which can be measured in terms of o Increase in tree biomass, grass and crop productivity, particularly carbon stock in above-ground biomass and growth rates o Increase in soil organic matter and improvement in carbon to nitrogen ratio

A large number of forest, grassland, agroforestry and land reclamation programmes are being implemented with support from national, bilateral and multilateral funding agencies. An illustrative list of land-based development programmes requiring carbon inventory is given in Table 3.5. Such programmes require the following activities:

• Making preliminary estimation and projection of improvements in biomass production or growth rates and soil organic matter or fertility improvements at the project proposal preparation stage

• Periodic monitoring and estimation of impact of project activities on biomass production or growth rates and soil organic matter content

Table 3.5 Illustrative list of forest, grassland and cropland development programmes requiring carbon inventory


Carbon pools for


Project title or type



Asian Development

- Sustainable Agroforestry Systems




for Livelihood Enhancement of

biomass and soil

the Rural Poor

UK Department for

- Control of Soil Acidity in

Eastern and

Soil carbon


Agroforestry Systems

Middle Africa


World Bank

- Pico Bonito Sustainable Forests




biomass and soil

- Forest Sector Development Project


- Forest Sector Development


Project; Supplemental Credit

- Sustainable Forestry Pilot Project



- Maharashtra Forestry Project


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