The Need For Measurement

Given that global climate policy is predicated on limiting the increase in concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and hence the rise in

Area of productive forest plantations

Area of other wooded land

Area of primary forest

Area of primary forest

Area of other wooded land

Area of productive forest plantations

□ M hectares

-5.8

-3.3

2.2

Figure 5.1 Annual average change in global forest area, 2000-2005

global temperatures, it is vitally important that the measurement of greenhouse gases abated and offset should be as accurate as possible. Moreover, for the market to function effectively, an offset of one tonne of CO2e should be equivalent to another, no matter how it is achieved, that is by adoption of new technology or by afforestation and reforestation (A/R) (see note 3).

A large proportion of global carbon emissions are the result of land-use change over massive areas (see Figure 5.1) mainly through deforestation and degradation of primary forests. The contribution of deforestation is large compared with the sequestration achieved by A/R, but under the Kyoto Protocol there are no incentives to curb the destruction of forests. The need to refine methods of measurement of bio-sequestered carbon has taken on a new urgency since the Bali Climate Change Conference in November 2007 which endorsed the need to introduce incentives for the reduction of deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

One of the continual stumbling blocks to the introduction of such a formal policy, however, is the difficulty of measurement of the carbon retained in forests rather than released to the atmosphere after land-use change. This difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that most deforestation is taking place over vast tracts in tropical forests in developing countries.

This brings the chapter to its purpose, which is to describe and review the methods by which the carbon dioxide being removed from the atmosphere by growing forests, and the carbon dioxide prevented from entering the atmosphere, is measured. First there is an introduction to developments in measurement.

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