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Methodologies of Carbon Estimation. By Zahabu , E & Malimbwi , R.E Department of Forest Mensuration and Management (SUA). Introduction. Carbon trade involves the sale of carbon credits. There are two main types of Carbon Trading Schemes that are operating globally to-date:

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methodologies of carbon estimation

Methodologies of Carbon Estimation


Zahabu, E & Malimbwi, R.E

Department of Forest Mensuration and Management


  • Carbon trade involves the sale of carbon credits.
  • There are two main types of Carbon Trading Schemes that are operating globally to-date:
    • Voluntary Carbon Trading (VCT), and
    • The official Kyoto Protocol Carbon Trading Mechanisms.
  • Carbon benefit of any forest carbon project = carbon changes to known levels of precision.
  • Determination of carbon changes requires baselines
  • Baseline: historical trends against which additional carbon benefits as a result of carbon project can be determined.
  • Baseline and monitoring schemes
    • individual project,
    • regional e.g Eastern Arc, and
    • national levels
  • Requires reliable data on forest extent and stocking.
what should be measured
What Should be Measured?
  • Forest Extent
  • Forest Stocks in Five IPCC pools:
    • aboveground,
    • belowground,
    • litter,
    • dead wood and
    • soil organic carbon
  • Widely accepted forest inventory procedures recommended by IPCC Good Practice Guide (IPCC, 2003)
  • CDM Approved LULUCF methodologies.
measurable carbon changes
Measurable Carbon changes
  • Sequestration/Enhancement
    • increases of forest biomass within areas of existing forest
  • Conservation
    • maintenance of a steady level of forest area and biomass density,
    • relate to forests that are already properly managed, e.g
      • protective forest reserves and
      • national parks
      • could be rewarded through a special “conservation” under REDD.
  • Reduction in emissions from deforestation
    • i.e. based on comparisons of rates of change of forest area over time,
  • Reductions in emissions from degradation
    • reductions in biomass/carbon stock in the forest without loss of forest area,
principles of baseline construction
Principles of Baseline Construction
  • Net-net accounting:
    • compares emissions or removal in the commitment period to those of a reference scenario i.e historical base year (e.g. 1990) or base period (e.g. 1990-2000),
  • Gross-net accounting:
    • Measurements of change of carbon stock are compared only over the commitment period itself.
    • Measure stock at the beginning of the project and compares this to the future
baseline for deforestation
Baseline for Deforestation
  • Principle:
    • a reference scenario from a historical period and net-net accounting.
  • Based on remotely sensed data over a historical period which shows change in area covered by forest.
  • Then data on carbon stock in different types of forest are used to calculate the change in terms of tons of carbon.
  • May be projected into the future and used to credit the additional mitigation benefit of the project
  • Challenges:
    • Setting reference base year
    • Carbon stock data highly variable: national forest inventory not undertaken
    • Assumes carbon stock per unit area is constant
fao fra 2005
FAO: FRA 2005
  • Tanzania used satellite imagery interpreted data of:
    • 1984 (Millington and Towsend, 1989) and compared these with
    • 1995 Hunting Technical Services (1997) for the determination of land cover changes in the country.
  • Annual deforestation = 412,000 ha
  • Average stocking 36 m3/ha from CEEST, (1999)
  • Carbon data are reported with their statistical confidence intervals (expressed as  values) at known precision level.
  • Most previous studies had low precision levels due to low sampling intensity adopted.
  • Moreover, they cover only a few forests.
baseline for degradation
Baseline for Degradation
  • Look at rates of biomass loss within the forest
  • This is not visible in remote sensing
  • Need ground measurements: No previous quality data
  • Possible to use one of the following techniques:
    • advanced remote sensing techniques (LiDAR),
    • harvesting estimates from the local people,
    • harvesting estimates from stumps counts,
    • default values (rule of thumb)/modelling, or
    • harvesting estimates from control sites.
  • Will be captured together with enhancement under gross-net accounting
forest degradation enhancement baselines

Normal growth pattern



Present stock Protective for.

Present stock Productive For

Time (years)

Start Measurements

Forest Degradation & Enhancement Baselines
  • No previous data on forest degradation & enhancement
    • Protective forest: to determine the rate of recovery
    • Productive forests: to determine the rate of degradation

Recover toward the threshold

Baseline Degrd.

Start of mgt

establishment of baseline at national level
Establishment of Baseline at National Level
  • Carryout national forest inventory to establish deforestation rates and stocking levels
    • Determine land use cover changes for the period of 1975 to 1990 to 2000 to 2007 using Landsat TM (FAO, 2007)
    • Conduct case studies to quantify emission factors for different forest types
  • Identify drivers of deforestation
  • Training on national forest inventories and remote sensing
  • Development of tools for assessment and monitoring of deforestation
  • Monitoring in PSP/LiDAR technology to capture forest enhancement and/or degradation levels.
establishment of baselines at projects level
Establishment of Baselines at Projects Level
  • Review and synthesize existing studies on degradation/ growth rates
  • Development and testing of methodologies to measure and monitor enhancement and/or forest degradation
  • Development of tools, guidelines and manual for degradation assessment and monitoring
  • Carryout assessment and monitoring of forest degradation in demonstration projects for establishing historic degradation emission factors including cost implications, and accuracy level
carbon assessment monitoring by local communities
Carbon Assessment & Monitoring by Local Communities
  • This is a strategy to involve local communities in order to reduce the transaction costs of measuring carbon
  • Local communities were trained and tasked to conduct the measurements
  • Techniques were developed to measure and monitor carbon stock.
  • They are:
    • User friendly to the users - the communities
    • reliable and
    • presented in a format acceptable to the scientific community
the equipment
The equipment

Consists of:

  • A handheld computer with ArcPadTM 6.0 software and connected to GPS
  • It is easy to use
  • Is used to locate:
    • forestry boundaries
    • sample plots and
    • recording measurement data
  • With a step-by-step guide to the procedures, local communities were trained in a short time and were able to use the system effectively
steps in carbon assessment
Steps in Carbon Assessment
  • Forest mapping/stratification
  • Pilot survey to estimate variance and number of sample plots
  • Locate the sample plots on the ground
  • Measure the dbh of all trees
  • Set out the sub-plots for the grasses, herb and litter data
  • Take soil samples randomly within the plot
data analysis
Data analysis

The following trees stand parameters were computed:

    • Density i.e. the number of stems per ha (N)
    • Basal area per hectare (Dominance)(G)
    • Volume per ha (V) and
    • Dry biomass / carbon (tones per ha)
  • Trees volume and biomass were computed using tested local existing allometric functions for the areas.
  • Computation were fitted on Ms Access database
conclusions recommendations
Conclusions & Recommendations
  • Methods exists to assess and measure forest carbon, however these are complex to the users
  • More studies are required for the Development of user friendly tools for the assessment and monitoring forest carbon
the end

The End!

Thank You!!!

Ahsanteni Sana!!!