Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Revegetation significance in the Mediterranean areas: a case study in Italy

According to the definition in the Marrakesh Accords Revegetation (RV) result as a buffer activity between the other activities of Art. 3.3 (Afforestation/Reforestation) and of Art. 3.4 (Cropland Management and Grazing land Management) of the Kyoto Protocol (KP). Thus the identification of activities qualifying for RV is subordinated to the election of national definitions and assumptions. The main criteria that must be identified at the national level are: the definition of forest, clarification of the concepts of "human-induced" and "at maturity" and the establishment of the hierarchy among the activities of Art. 3.4.

On the basis of the elected criteria the relevance of RV may vary significantly inside the country's land and consequently the election of this additional activity at the national level may be cost effective or not. The convenience of election is connected to the comparison between benefits in terms of carbon-sink rising from RV activities and costs connected to the inventorying and monitoring of RV. The developed analysis highlighted that RV may be significant in helping to fulfil KP commitments only under broad criteria. In particular the inclusion of natural development of vegetation not qualifying for forest in abandoned lands would enlarge the area that may qualify for RV reducing costs per unit area.

The process of vegetation expansion was proved to be mainly concentrated in the Mediterranean areas first through the analysis of FAO data on forest land and secondly through the processing of Corine Land Cover (CLC) maps in Italy that provided an estimate of land undergoing RV under broad assumption (around 8400ha year-1). The comparison to a more detailed scale study in the South of Italy confirmed that the CLC is not a suitable tool for the monitoring of RV activities, since the undetected land-use change area is not negligible in terms of surface. In addition the definitions of the cover classes and the minimum area used in the CLC are not compatible with the parameters requested for the reporting under the KP. The CLC validity is limited to a preliminary analysis on the presence or absence of RV under broad definitions and to a first comprehension of the distribution of RV at the country level in order to evaluate the significance of the RV processes and the effectiveness of election. Besides the uncertainties connected to the RV significance in terms of land affected, the calculation of benefits connected to RV activities is highly dependent on the knowledge on C dynamics and C-accumulation rates further to land-use changes qualifying for RV. An analysis of studies in the Mediterranean areas was developed.

The uncertainties are many especially as concern succession processes in abandoned areas due to the numerous factors involved. The abandonment of agricultural areas usually lead to a carbon-sink but at the same time adverse processes have been documented, leading to soil organic matter depletion (thus, GHG emission). Additional studies should be developed to understand the extension of these processes on the territory in order to correct the estimate of C accumulation after land abandonment. But the most common trend seems to be an increase of C in the biomass and in the soil. The biomass data are also very variable and limited in number so the identification of general trends was not possible. Further analysis would be needed and additional information should be gathered on the biomass and carbon dynamics to fill the gaps existing at the moment.

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Dep. TeSAF - University of Padova
Viale dell'Universita 16 - Agripolis
35020 Legnaro
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