Title: Modelling forest carbon stock changes as affected by harvest and natural disturbances. I. Comparison with countries’ estimates for forest management
Citation: CARBON BALANCE AND MANAGEMENT vol. 11 no. 1 p. 5
Publication Year: 2016
JRC N°: JRC97398
ISSN: 1750-0680
URI: http://cbmjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s13021-016-0047-8
DOI: 10.1186/s13021-016-0047-8
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: According to the post-2012 rules under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries that are signatories to the protocol have to estimate, report, and account the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals from forest management (FM), with the option to exclude the emissions and subsequent removals associated to natural disturbances. The general aim of this study is to implement a single consistent methodological approach using the Carbon Budget Model (CBM) for the period 2000-2012 to estimate the carbon (C) stock changes from FM in 26 European Union (EU) countries. All forest carbon pools were considered, and the impacts of natural disturbances (mainly storms and fires) and forest management were represented. We then compared the CBM results with the data reported by countries in their GHG inventories submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The match between the CBM results and the GHG inventories was good (i.e. same trend and same level) in 9 cases and partially good (either for the trend or the level) in 10 cases. When the comparison was not satisfactory, in most cases we identified possible reasons for the discrepancies, including: (i) a different representation of the interannual variability due to harvest and natural disturbances (e.g. when GHG inventories use the stock-change approach); (ii) different assumptions for non-biomass pools (not reported by several countries) and for CO2 emissions from fires and harvest residues. In few cases – e.g. where the GHG inventory reports an increasing biomass sink associated with an increasing trend in harvest rates – a closer analysis is needed to identify any possible inappropriate data used by the CBM (e.g. old statistics) or problems in the GHG inventory. Finally, implementation of consistent methodology using a model is challenging because of ongoing updates to data and methods used by countries and, also in the light of the frequent recalculations and the high uncertainties reported by countries on forest C stock changes. This study indicates opportunities to use the CBM as tool to assist countries in estimating forest C dynamics (e.g., in case of natural disturbances) through the use of a consistent methodology that meets the objectives of the IPCC Guidelines. On the other hand, the CBM may be seen as potential verification tool of GHG inventories at the EU level. A systematic comparison of the CBM with the GHG inventories will certainly require additional efforts – including close cooperation between modelers and country experts – and caution in interpreting the results. Nevertheless, this approach should be seen as a necessary step in the process of continuous improvement of GHG inventories, because it may help in identifying possible errors and ultimately in building trust in the estimates reported by the countries.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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