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Skutsch M.M.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Torres A.B.,Sustainable Development Technology | Torres A.B.,Pti Instituto Tecnologico Y Of Estudios Superiores Of Occidente Iteso | Mwampamba T.H.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | And 2 more authors.
Carbon Balance and Management

The paper reviews a number of challenges associated with reducing degradation and its related emissions through national approaches to REDD+ under UNFCCC policy. It proposes that in many countries, it may in the short run be easier to deal with the kinds of degradation that result from locally driven community over-exploitation of forest for livelihoods, than from selective logging or fire control. Such degradation is low-level, but chronic, and is experienced over very large forest areas. Community forest management programmes tend to result not only in reduced degradation, but also in forest enhancement; moreover they are often popular, and do not require major political shifts. In principle these approaches therefore offer a quick start option for REDD+. Developing reference emissions levels for low-level locally driven degradation is difficult however given that stock losses and gains are too small to be identified and measured using remote sensing, and that in most countries there is little or no forest inventory data available. We therefore propose that forest management initiatives at the local level, such as those promoted by community forest management programmes, should monitor, and be credited for, only the net increase in carbon stock over the implementation period, as assessed by ground level surveys at the start and end of the period. This would also resolve the problem of nesting (ensuring that all credits are accounted for against the national reference emission level), since communities and others at the local level would be rewarded only for increased sequestration, while the national reference emission level would deal only with reductions in emissions from deforestation and degradation. © 2011 Skutsch et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Balderas Torres A.,Sustainable Development Technology | Balderas Torres A.,Pti Instituto Tecnologico Y Of Estudios Superiores Of Occidente Iteso | MacMillan D.C.,University of Kent | Skutsch M.,Sustainable Development Technology | And 3 more authors.
Ecosystem Services

Incentive-based mechanisms can contribute to rural development and deliver environmental services, but need to be attractive to landowners and communities to ensure their participation. Here we study the views of landowners and agrarian communities (ejidos) from central Jalisco in Mexico to identify characteristics that payment for environmental services (PES) programs conserving/enhancing forest cover could include in their design. A choice experiment was applied to 161 landowners and ejido-landowners. Results show that importance and dependency on cash payments can decrease if interventions to promote local development through improved health and education services and generation of employment and productive projects are included. Responses indicate that communal forested areas in ejidos would be most likely to enroll into PES. In some cases grasslands could be afforested. Agroforestry practices providing other environmental services could also be implemented (e.g. windbreaks). Potential enrollment is lower in agricultural and peri-urban areas due to higher opportunity costs. Higher payments favor enrollment but may compromise the program's efficiency since aggregated cash-flow over long periods can exceed the present value of the land itself in some areas. Offering a mix of cash and non-cash benefits based on local developmental needs might be the best way to promote participation in PES. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. Source

Torres A.B.,Sustainable Development Technology | Torres A.B.,Pti Instituto Tecnologico Y Of Estudios Superiores Of Occidente Iteso | Skutsch M.,Sustainable Development Technology | Skutsch M.,National Autonomous University of Mexico

The objective of REDD+ is to create incentives for the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and for the increase of carbon stocks through the enhancement, conservation and sustainable management of forests in developing countries. As part of the international negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), compensation would be estimated in relation to national performance but how these incentives will be channeled within countries has not been specified and there are concerns about how the benefits will be shared among different stakeholders. One central issue is that under the national approach good performance in one region can be offset by underperformance in other regions of the country thus preventing the generation of predictable local incentives. Other issues relate to the need to provide incentives to a wide range of stakeholders and to avoid perverse reactions. To address these and other issues we propose separating the accounting of reduced deforestation, reduced degradation and enhancement of forests. The local attribution of credits would be easier for carbon enhancement, and possibly reduced degradation, than for reduced deforestation, since carbon gains can, in principle, be measured locally in the first two cases, while estimating achievements in reduced deforestation requires a regional approach. This separation in attribution of rewards can help to create adequate incentives for the different stakeholders and overcome some of the problems associated with the design and implementation of national REDD+ programs. © 2012 by the authors. Source

Torres A.B.,Sustainable Development Technology | Torres A.B.,Pti Instituto Tecnologico Y Of Estudios Superiores Of Occidente Iteso | Lovett J.C.,Sustainable Development Technology | Lovett J.C.,University of Leeds

Increasing use of woody plants for greenhouse gas mitigation has led to demand for rapid, cost-effective estimation of forest carbon stocks. Bole diameter is readily measured and basal area can be correlated to biomass and carbon through application of allometric equations. We explore different forms of allometric equations and analyse the potential to use of equations for individual trees to derive stand-level equations, where the basal area and the average diameter are used as explanatory variables. To test the relationships derived from published allometric equations, we used data from a forest inventory in the oak-pine forests in La Primavera (Mexico). Results show that in two forests with the same species and basal area, there will be more carbon where trees are larger. Allometric equations for individual trees can be transformed into stand-level equations. The values of average diameter weighted by the basal area for these equations can be based on a small sample of large trees once the local relationship between tree size and tree density per hectare is known. This approach could considerably reduce field data requirements in comparison with inventory methods based on enumeration of all trees for estimation of biomass and carbon. © Institute of Chartered Foresters, 2012. All rights reserved. Source

Torres A.B.,Sustainable Development Technology | Torres A.B.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Enriquez R.O.,Pti Instituto Tecnologico Y Of Estudios Superiores Of Occidente Iteso | Skutsch M.,Sustainable Development Technology | And 2 more authors.

Forests contribute to climate change mitigation by removing atmospheric carbon dioxide and storing it in biomass and other carbon pools. Additionally, since appropriate forest management can reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, it is important to estimate the magnitude of these services to include them into climate policy. We used a forest inventory stratified by canopy cover in the oak-pine forest of La Primavera Biosphere Reserve in México (30,500 ha), to assess the potential provision of forest carbon services. Inventory results were used in combination with a Landsat image to estimate carbon stocks in arboreal biomass. Potential carbon removals were calculated from published allometric equations and models estimating tree growth rates, for enhancements in forested areas and for reforestation/afforestation. Carbon stocks estimated in arboreal biomass at the time of the inventory were 4.16 MtCO2eq (3.42-4.89). The potential for further carbon sequestration and enhancement could take the level of stocks up to 9.77 MtCO2eq (7.66-11.89, 95% confidence interval); previous fires have degraded carbon stocks below their natural potential. The results present a gradient of carbon stocks for different degradation levels and are consistent with national and international estimates and previous local research. The baseline for the estimation of reduced emissions is critical for assessing the overall contribution of forests to mitigate climate change. The local baseline of emissions might be around 1% according to historical data; however, when enhancements and reduced emissions are valuated together, a baseline of 3.7% is required to prevent the creation of perverse incentives favouring previously degraded areas; considering these figures for reduced emissions, the yearly carbon services provided by La Primavera, including enhancements, sequestration and reduced emissions, could be between 169.4 ktCO2eq/year (134.8-204.5) and 282.1 ktCO2eq/year (228.2-337.1), respectively. Over a period of 60 years, this would be equivalent to 2.4 and 4.1 times the magnitude of mean standing stocks at the time of the inventory. If incentive-based mechanisms are used to maintain and enhance forest carbon services and perverse incentives are to be avoided, a balanced mix of incentives and controls is needed. © 2013 by the authors. Source

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