Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Media release 7.12.2005

New methods for assessing forest carbon stocks and stock changes
EU countries are ready to report on changes in forest carbon stocks already in 2006

Methods for assessing forest carbon stocks and stock changes have been developed as part of an EU-financed research consortium ”Carboinvent”. The results will be utilized in greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and in creating inventory instructions to be published by the international Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Currently, most EU countries are already able to report the changes in their biomass carbon stocks in compliance with international agreements in 2006. The results will also be useful for several countries when they develop their inventory systems.

-According to the Kyoto Protocol, countries that can report changes in their forest carbon stocks during 2008-2012 by using an internationally approved method can use part of their forest carbon sinks to compensate for their GHG emissions and thus reduce their expenses, says Raisa Mäkipää, Researcher at Metla and one of the coordinators for the research consortium.

The Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla coordinated a subproject for the consortium focusing on analysing the carbon stock changes in forest biomass. Researchers from eight organisations and six different countries participated in the project.

The amount and fluxes of carbon bound in forests have a significant effect on the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. Forests can have a significant role in controlling the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and in mitigation of global climate change, which is why these measures were included in the Kyoto Protocol. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol require participating countries to report on their forest carbon stocks and stock changes. The EU countries submit a joint report to the UN FCCC on their GHG emissions and forest-bound carbon stocks. In order to create a reliable GHG inventory that covers all EU countries, each country is required to report its own forest carbon emissions and fluxes following the internationally agreed instructions set by the IPCC, in a comprehensive, transparent and uniform manner.

In this project coordinated by Metla various biomass models were compiled into databases; the tree species-specific models can now be used to calculate the biomass carbon stock and stock changes (using biomass expansion factors (BEF) and biomass equations). The group managed to develop new and more reliable BEFs for major Mediterranean and boreal coniferous tree species. For temperate-zone tree species new biomass equations were created using source data that was more extensive than the ones previously used. A calculation method based on these simple expansion factors was compared to more detailed tree-specific data and to a biomass model-based calculation by applying both methods over large areas using Swedish national forest inventory data. Both computation methods are applicable to national-scale calculations of carbon stock inventories and irrespective of the method, the most significant uncertainties relate to carbon stock assessments of young forests.

The work accomplished by the Carboinvent (Multi-source inventory methods for quantifying carbon stocks and stock changes in European forests) consortium has proven that monitoring carbon stock changes is challenging. Creating internationally uniform inventory practices will require further investigation and increasingly closer international collaboration.

The following institutions participated in the subprogramme coordinated by Metla: European Forest Institute (EFI), JRC-IES - Institute for Environment and Sustainability (European Commission) from Italy, Institute of Forest Ecosystem Research from the Czech Republic, the Hungarian Forest Research Institute (ERTI), Austrian Federal Forest Research Centre and Umweltbundesamt, and CREAF (Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications) from Spain.

The research was part of Metla projects 3323 on modelling forest carbon cycles and forest carbon balance (3399).

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