Assessing risks to forest cover and carbon stocks: A review of tools and approaches to compare business-as-usual to REDD+ scenarios

Posted on 03 July 2013    
Assessing risks to forest cover and carbon stocks: A review of tools
This report reviews some of the tools available to map areas at risk for deforestation and forest degradation, and to compare carbon emissions estimates under current conditions and future REDD+ scenarios.

This report notes:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that 20 per cent of global carbon emissions originate from deforestation and forest degradation (Parker et al., 2009). REDD+, or reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, is a proposed mechanism to combat this phenomenon. As part of REDD+, developing tropical forest countries would be financially rewarded by developed countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. In addition, there would be associated co-benefits for biodiversity and the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities.

Deforestation may result from a variety of causes. Planned land-cover changes result from zoned infrastructure development and agriculture. Unplanned changes usually occur in areas of poor governance, often manifesting themselves as spontaneous settlements along roads, near mines or adjacent to existing settlements. Areas at risk from both planned and unplanned deforestation and forest degradation are eligible for REDD+ payments after emission reductions have been measured and verified. Therefore, the amount by which emissions have been reduced from  a business-as-usual scenario, in which no REDD+ activities have been implemented, needs to be estimated. 
As such, it is critical that REDD+ project managers:
  • Identify areas at risk of deforestation and forest degradation;
  • Estimate carbon stocks in these areas currently, in the future under business-as-usual and  in the future under a REDD+ project scenario;
  • Quantify the additionality or carbon emissions reductions that could result from successful REDD+ implementation of mitigation actions;
  • Link with the potential monetary value of carbon. 
This paper reviews the tools available for project managers to do this.

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