Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Article 3.4 of the Kyoto protocol - policy options

1) Although substantial progress has been made in recent decades to understand the effects of rising levels of atmospheric CO2, temperature rise and changes in other elements of physical climate, nutrient availability and pollutants, there are still substantial limitations to predictability of the effect sizes. Although hypotheses and elements for understanding of these processes were published and are further developed, a set of rules for prediction of the effect sizes that are commonly accepted within science has not yet been achieved. Thus, the individual factors that make carbon uptake and release vary cannot currently be identified and quantified, i.e. factoring out every single component from a composite flux is to high a burden for Kyoto reporting. The alternative interpretation of factoring out is based on the view that the aim is not to understand every single factor but rather to quantify the change imposed by application of a specific management measure, i.e. factoring out the direct human induced change. Then, the sources of variation due to indirect human induced effects and former management impacts need not to be identified and quantified individually. This can be achieved with paired comparison of stands that are treated in the "standard" way but subjected to all indirect effects to stands that are treated with a changed management regime but apart from this subjected to the same environmental conditions.

2) Many climate protection options within the whole forest/wood industry cluster and by use of wood products are accounted for in other articles of the Kyoto protocol. The reduction of emissions that is achieved by substitution of fossil fuel intensive non-woody materials by wood is reducing emissions from industry and households for the whole country. Simulation results show that managed forests turn from an inferior to a superior choice if substitution effects are included in the evaluation. The generality of these results needs to be further assessed. As opposed to increases in stocks within the forest, substitution leads to cumulative effects (every harvest) - there is no sink limitation for this part of the sink. Thus, an evaluation of the whole set of policies and rules concerning wood use within the wider national concept for climate protection is needed when decisions on article 3.4 are to be taken. The same holds true for a wider range of policies if a sustainable use of forests, nature protection objectives, the provisioning of other goods and services than wood production and carbon storage need to be taken into account.

3) A large portfolio of methods to monitor timber volume changes exists that already allows quantifying a high percentage of FM-induced changes. Additional inventories need - in most cases - to be conducted for wood density, soil, dead wood, leaf litter, and ground vegetation carbon stocks. Biomass equations and BEF's (and the conditions of their use) can still be improved, especially in as much as roots are concerned. However, in most cases the methodology exists and needs just to be incorporated in existing inventory schemes. The main problem is that in many respects the baseline cases against which effects need to be evaluated by monitoring are not yet fixed. The baseline cases cannot be defined in one single way, but decisions to be taken depend on a detailed identification of policy objectives with respect to the Kyoto protocol and the role of articles 3.3 and 3.4 therein as well as with respect to other forestry related policy fields (nature protection, multi purpose forestry, sustainable use of natural resources, role of forest economy). Attempts to find answers to these open questions are part of the continuous negotiations of COP and define alternative policy options.

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