Metla Project 3306
Forest Carbon Sinks and Economic Costs of Kyoto Protocol
Keywords: Kyoto Protocol, carbon sequestration, climate change, forest carbon sink
Research Programme: Pools and fluxes of carbon in Finnish forests and their socio-economic implications
Objectives The forest carbon (C) sinks were included in the Kyoto Protocol as a mechanism to mitigate global climate change. According to the Protocol, the net sink of C arising from land use changes and forestry over the period of 2008-2012 can be credited and may substitute the reduction of GHG emissions. Importance of forests to atmospheric carbon have created a timely need for reliable and transparent estimates of carbon budgets of forests.
The objectives of this study are to
- Analyse how credited forest C sinks affect the economic costs of the Kyoto Protocol in the economywide and sectoral level
- Evaluate the reliability and comparability of the C sink estimates of the various countries
- Identify uncertainties related to assessment of forest carbon budget
- Develope and improve methods used for assessment of forest carbon budget.
These objectives and results represent also project 3399 'Forest carbon budget' (2004-2005).
- Uncertainty of forestry sector carbon sinks was remarkable in comparison to uncertainty of emissions on other sectors. Our results showed that the contribution of carbon sinks in forest vegetation and soil (upland mineral soils) were key categories determining the reliability of national greenhouse gas inventory. See figure about estimates and uncertainties by sector.
- The factors affecting the uncertainty of sinks were different from the factors that affected the uncertainty of estimated carbon stocks. Uncertainty of annual sink estimates were mostly driven by initial estimate of soil carbon and factors that were given as input to the calculation system such as estimates of drain, growth variation, and temperature. The stocks of carbon were affected more by the conversion of stem volume to biomass, litter and carbon. See the picture about the key factors affecting the uncertainty of sinks and stocks of carbon in Finnish forests.
- Economywide and sectoral effects of implementation of the Kyoto Protocol with credits from forest carbon sinks was analysed with global, economywide GTAP-E model. New Zealand gains most from the inclusion of sinks; but Sweden, Canada and Japan also benefit considerably. For Finland, the impact of credited sinks is marginal. Credited sinks only partly reduce the difference in economic burden of achieving the Kyoto target among countries. See publication (pdf-file) and figure.
- Effects of thinnings and rotation length on forest carbon sequestration, overall carbon budget of forest sector and economy of forest owner was evaluated (see Publications Liski et al. 2001, Pussinen et al 2002, and thesis by Mononen, 2003)
- Biomass expansion factors (BEF) of Scots pine, Norway spruce, and birch were shown to be dependent on stand age. These BEFs can be used to convert stemwood volumes of tree stands to whole tree biomasses by biomass compartment (foliage, branches, stems, bark, stumps, coarse roots, fine roots). See figure, presentation (pdf-file 200 Kb) and article. These BEFs were tested against biomass equations and NFI data in Sweden. See article (pdf). Also foliage biomass estimates by BEFs were tested and alternative estimation methods were discussed. See article (pdf).
- Branch litter fall of Scots pine varies according the development of trees. Traditionally relative branch litter estimate have been a constant, when carbon budgets has been assessed. See article (pdf) .
- In Norway spruce stands, annual litterfall of needles is 10% of the total needle biomass (See figure). Litterfall of branches is 1.25% of the total branch biomass, and it varies according to stand density and stand age (See figure). These modelled biomass turnover rates of Norway spruce differ significantly from those based on Scots pine stands and applied earlier for all coniferous stands. See article (pdf).
- The annual biomass turnover rates of needles for southern and northern Finland are 0.21 and 0.10, respectively.Species-specific estimation of litter production is essential for understanding the carbon cycle and flows of forests. See article (pdf).
- Modelled soil carbon was tested against measured soil and stand data. Modeling results and measured carbon in forest humus layer show similar growth trend over time. However, forest management actions and the small number of young sample sites made it impossible to find statistically meaningful results for early develepment stages. Mineral soil carbon was found to vary greatly and there was no distinctive trend over stand development. See figure.
- Database of treewise volume- and biomass equations according to diameter at breast height and/or height includes equations for common European tree species. Equations will be used when estimating biomass expansion factors for major tree species. Database is compiled as a joint project with University of dinburg, Finnish Forest Research Institute and partners of COST E21 Action. See article (Silva Fennica Monographs 4, Zianis et al.). More information.
- Aboveground biomass of boreal understorey vegetation can be derived according to the percentage cover. See figure and article (pdf).
- The suitability of optical ASTER satellite data for estimating the biomass of boreal forest stands in mineral soils was tested. The predictions obtained were significantly close to the municipality-level mean values provided by the National Forest Inventory of Finland. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Good Practice Guidance (IPCC GPG), remote sensing methods are especially suitable for verifying the national Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) C pool estimates, especially the aboveground biomass. See article (pdf).
- Developed biomass and litter estimation methods were combined with soil model Yasso and annual carbon stocks for biomass and soils were predicted for Finland 1922-2004. See two separate dissertations of Aleksi Lehtonen and Petteri Muukkonen.
- Forest stand and site characterics (e.g. dominant tree species and stand age) can be used for estimating aboveground biomass of understorey vegetation. See article (pdf).
The Finnish Forest Research Institute,
PL 18, FI-01301 VANTAA, FINLAND
Phone: +358 29 532 2197
Lehtonen, Aleksi, HE (2001-04), Muukkonen, Petteri (2002-04), Peltoniemi, Mikko (2003-04), Pohjola, Johanna (2000-03), Vanhanen, Heidi, HE (2002-03)
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