Carbon Mitigation Projects

The main goal of carbon mitigation projects is to maximize gains in carbon stocks and minimize emissions of CO2 from land-use systems. For example, in avoided deforestation projects, the main goal is to reduce the emissions of CO2 from forest land conversion or harvest of trees, whereas in afforestation and reforestation projects, maximizing the biomass and soil carbon stocks is the main focus. The selection of carbon pools depends on the land-use system considered for mitigation.

The key carbon pools for different types of projects are given in Table 4.4.

(i) Avoided deforestation Avoided deforestation is a dominant carbon mitigation opportunity in land-use sectors (IPCC 2007c) and all the five carbon pools are likely to be important, necessitating monitoring of all of them. Further, the selection of carbon pools may be influenced by the following considerations:

• Avoided deforestation leading to halting land-use change, from forest land to cropland for example, would impact all the carbon pools in the project area since all the biomass pools may be removed and burnt. Soil carbon will be lost due to land preparation or disturbance to topsoil, particularly if forest land is converted to cropland.

• Deforestation leading to degradation of forest land with no land-use change or land conversion, may require monitoring of only above-ground biomass if commercial harvesting is practiced, leading to removal of all standing trees. Litter and deadwood may have to be monitored if these pools are removed or burnt. Soil carbon is unlikely to be impacted if land-use remains unchanged or topsoil remains undisturbed.

(ii) Afforestation and reforestation, including bioenergy plantations The key carbon pools likely to be impacted because of afforestation and reforestation are above-ground biomass, below-ground biomass and soil carbon. The accumulation of litter and deadwood pools is unlikely to be significant in the short term. If forest land is converted to plantations, soil carbon is likely to be impacted significantly because of land preparation practices. Any disturbance to soil as

Table 4.4 Key carbon pools for carbon mitigation and other land-based projects

Carbon pool

Table 4.4 Key carbon pools for carbon mitigation and other land-based projects

Carbon pool

Above-

Below-

Project category

Project type

ground biomass

ground biomass

Litter

Deadwood Soil

n

Avoided deforestation

***

***

***

*** ***

at

Afforestation and

***

**

*

* ***

M

reforestation

Ë

Bioenergy plantations

***

***

*

- ***

n o b ar

Forest management for timber

***

*

*

**

C

Grassland management

*

*

-

- ***

T3 e

Commercial plantations

***

*

-

- ***

oogy

Community forestry

***

-

-

- **

tó S a-ü

projects

-a e

Agroforestry

***

*

-

-*

Cti

Shelterbelts

***

*

-

-*

O -à

Watershed

**

-

-

- ***

lan

Land reclamation

*

*

-

- ***

*** = high impact, ** = medium impact, * = low impact, - = no impact or marginal impact

*** = high impact, ** = medium impact, * = low impact, - = no impact or marginal impact part of land preparation will have significant implications for the soil carbon pool. However, if reforestation is carried out through protection and promotion of natural regeneration, without disturbing the topsoil, soil carbon pool is unlikely to be impacted in the short term, say less than five years.

(iii) Forest management Activities under forest management may include sustainable logging, fertilizer application and thinning. Forest management does not involve any land-use change or disturbance to topsoil. Thus, the only carbon pool likely to be impacted significantly is above-ground biomass in the short term and soil carbon in the long term.

(iv) Grassland management and land reclamation. Above-ground biomass, litter and deadwood are unlikely to be impacted by project activities leading to improved grassland or annual cropland or to better management of degraded land. Even under the baseline situation, tree biomass may not be present in any significant quantity in croplands, grasslands or savannahs. The main goal is to improve soil fertility and grass or crop production. Above-ground biomass and root biomass in grasslands is an important carbon pool but it is part of the annual cycle, and soil carbon is likely to be the only key pool.

The carbon pools likely to be impacted by a given type of mitigation project may sometimes depend on the location, dominant species and management practice. Thus, the project manager has to make an expert judgment on which pools to be monitored based on location-specific factors as well as the general guidance provided in this handbook.

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