Previous Page Top Of Page

Annex 3: The lessons learnt from the AIJ pilot phase in the land-use and forestry sector

In 2000, forty land-use and forestry projects had been implemented in order to contribute to climate change mitigation. Eighteen of these were officially recognized as AIJ projects (Table 1) and registered at the UNFCCC Secretariat. The other projects were not accepted. Some had been undertaken before 1995, the official starting date of the AIJ pilot phase. Some are domestic projects limited to a particular country, some are managed by organizations outside the pilot phase structures (such as the projects managed by the GEF), while others have not received the host country's agreement to allow the project to be carried out. Although these projects were not officially recognized during the pilot phase, they are still interesting to analyze, since reference scenarios and the risks of leakage had to be defined and analyzed.

Approximately thirty of these projects are being carried out at the present time, including nine AIJ projects and about twenty non-AIJ projects. The reason for this low number of projects has most frequently been the lack of financing. Project development under the AIJ pilot phase involved the participation of different actors and organizations: governments, public institutions, non-governmental organizations, private companies, local associations, etc.

Different types of projects were proposed:

The large number of AIJ conservation projects presented is due to the widely-held belief that these projects are relatively easy to set up (simply by purchasing land parcels), that they are not too costly since they do not involve any real technology transfers, and that they yield numerous " emission credits" given the large areas involved. The environmental additionality of these projects would seem to be evident as well. This idea has tended to become increasingly less clear, whether at the level of costs or that of the projects' additionality. The additionality of these projects is less evident at present than it was before, considering the risks of high leakage connected to these projects. If we consider the lifetime of these projects (an average of 44 years, according to the IPCC), it would seem evident that the costs needed for their implementation and their perennial nature are far larger than might have previously appeared. Projects planned for this long a period must limit reversibility risks (maintenance, surveillance). In addition, this long lifetime implies the need for solid reference scenarios, and a very serious approach that could generate supplementary costs.

Types of project



Conservation of carbon stocks

Protectionby land purchase and/or reconversion of deforestation actors, battle against natural catastrophes (fire, pests)

• Limiting deforestation

•Reducing GHGE14at a lower cost

•Preserving biodiversity

•Local community participation


•Contracts with proprietors, no deforestation elsewhere

•Buffer zones (answering local demand for wood

•Ecotourism development (reconversion of proprietors and local community participation)

•Surveillance (fire, pests, illegal exploitation) by field visits, surveys, aerial photographs

Reduced impact logging

•Sustainable forest management

•Reduction of GHGE

•Preservation of biodiversity, and of soils and rivers

•Transfer of competencies


•Use of a GIS15

•Planning of road networks and storage

•Planning of felling operations

Increase of carbon stocks

ForestationIndustrial plantations for timber and wood pulp

•Storage of atmospheric CO2in the terrestrial biomass

•Regional economic development (new markets)

•Purchase of lands

•Preparation of terrain (irrigation)

•Plantation (Eucalyptus, Mangium acacia)


•Eventual development

•Replanting or return to copse

•Choice of lands for reforestation among the 20 to 40% that can be restored at a reasonable cost

Reforestationon degraded terrain or deforested areas, regeneration and enrichment

•Storage of atmospheric CO2in the terrestrial biomass

•Restoration of degraded lands

•Protection of watersheds

•Evaluating degradation causes

•Reforestation in function of degradation causes and proprietors objectives'

•Progressive enrichment


Energy efficiency / forest management

•Reduction of GHGE (energy efficiency)

•Storage of CO2in the terrestrial biomasse and response to local demand for wood (forestry management)

•Transfer of competencies and technology

•Local community participation

•Use of photo-voltaic systems

•Use of new technologies in order to reduce demand for wood (oil stoves, improvement of carbonization)

•Forestry management (inventories, fire prevention

Table 1. Types of forestry projects encountered during the AIJ pilot phase






The asterisks indicate the importance of each party's participation.

The figures in parentheses indicate the number of inventoried cases in the 39 forestry projects.

The creation of reference scenarios has most frequently been the work of project promoters (Moura-Costaet al.,2000). Two problems were raised in these cases : the credibility of the results obtained and transparency. It is in the interest of promoters to create a reference scenario that is as high as possible in terms of CO2emissions, so that the project's additionality is seen as considerable, since their objective is to obtain the highest possible number of emission credits (Tipper and de Jong, 1998). There has been a very limited distribution of information with regard to the methodology adopted by the promoters. It should also be noted that the methodologies created had not been verified (IPCC, 2000).This lack of transparency creates another problem. When information regarding the development of a project is not available, it becomes very difficult to implement similar projects, which runs counter to one of the Convention's objectives.

Where projects have been implemented by governments, such as theOlafoproject in Guatemala, or the Burkina Faso project, the reference scenarios have been defined by agencies affiliated with these governments, research institutes or universities. This did not prevent a lack of transparency in the methodology applied for the definition of the reference scenarios (Dixon, 1999).

Methodologies have been created by several independent bodies or by third parties in order to compensate for the lack of transparency and the questionable credibility of the reference scenarios. National AIJ offices such as the one in Costa Rica have created reference scenarios, particularly for the PAP (Protected Area Project) project, regrouping the oldCARFIXandBIODIVERSIFIXprojects. Other independent bodies, including auditing consultants (such as SGS Forestry, for example), and supervisory bodies (such as Winrock International, for example), that evaluate the emission credits to be allocated, have created or re-evaluated reference scenarios. The credibility of reference scenarios has thus been reinforced, in spite of the fact that transparency is not always present, except in the case of the AIJ national offices. It is at this level that the private sector has been most active, with evaluation consultancies "growing like mushrooms" (Dixon, 1999).

Since reference scenarios have been developed by bodies as diverse as those noted above, it is hardly surprising to find this diversity reflected in the scenarios and methodologies that were created during the first AIJ pilot phase. Furthermore, the pilot phase was established in order to have different methodologies emerge, so as to compare them with one another and be able to create the most solid reference scenarios in the future, thus achieving the most accurate environmental additionality for the proposed projects.

Different types of reference scenarios were created, either by following the forestry sector's varied activities, or by following projects within the same activity.

Although a variety of reference scenarios were created during the course of the AIJ pilot phase, two fundamental stages were followed in all the projects, in order to establish these scenarios and calculate the environmental additionality of the projects (IPCC, 2000). The first of these involved providing for the probable evolution of the terrestrial ecosystems within the borders of the area that the proposed project was dealing with. The second stage consisted of estimating the carbon stock variations in that area, according to the hypotheses that had been put forward during the first stage.

Two different lines of conduct were followed in attempting to foresee the future of the ecosystems concerned by the project. The first was based on an hypothesis using simple and qualitative arguments, while the second used simulation models for forecasting this activity.

Simple qualitative reference scenarios

The first line of conduct was adopted in a majority of the projects. The reference scenarios were drawn upon the basis of simple and qualitative arguments (Table 2). Hypotheses were generally similar within a same type of projects. (This helps demonstrate the qualitative aspect of the hypotheses posed by the promoters.) For forestation projects (RUSAFOR)and plantation projects (Green Fleet Initiative)on degraded lands, the hypotheses proposed led to the assumption that the carbon stocks would remain at the zero level. For most of the conservation projects (conservation or reduced impact logging), the hypotheses were based on past local practices and an extrapolation of the deforestation rates (Noel Kempffproject in Bolivia, theA E S Mbaracayu Initiativein Paraguay, and theProtected Areas Projectin Costa Rica). Other conservation projects (Rio Bravoproject in Belize) assumed a conversion of the project area into cultivated land or pasture. Different qualitative hypotheses have also been proposed with regard to local development (projects financed by the GEF). The variation of the soil carbon stock has usually not been taken into account in the reference scenarios, except in three projects (Scolel Te, RUSAFORandECOLAND).

Alongside with past local practices, other variable were used in most of the project reports by the promoters to advance the different hypotheses (Table 2). Certain important variables such as demographic evolution (population growth and movements) or the forestry policy of a region or a country were very rarely evoked in the reference scenarios.

Table 2. Hypotheses and variables in the simple approach to reference scenarios


No evolution of degraded lands

Constant reduction of carbon stocks

Land use change (forests to cultivated land)

Constant soil carbon (or not)

Local development (or not)


Project lifetime

Deforestation factors and rates

Illegal harvests

Local socio-economic environment

Previous local practices

Regional and national economic tendencies

Evolution of the wood market

Forestry policies (legislation)


Hypotheses based on simple arguments do not make the development of a reference scenario any the less rigorous, if all the variables regarding the evolution of a project's implantation area are taken into consideration. In the case of projects in which commercial plantations must be created, using simple arguments to state that some land is going to remain degraded is quite as valid as any other method used.

These arguments are qualitative or they offer approximate figures such as : " the forest will disappear in ...x... years", or " the carbon stores will continue to decrease by ...x%... each year", for example (Pinard and Putz, 1997 : Tipperet al.,1998 ; Brownet al.,2000). This prevents us from obtaining a precise reference scenario with regard to the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions. These hypotheses, taken as they are from simple arguments, demonstrate a linear evolution of the ecosystems concerned (constant deforestation rate, invariability in the rhythm of forest transformation to cultivated lands). It is highly unlikely that this will be the case. It is possible for a deforestation tendency to reverse itself, as was the case in many developed countries during the course of the past century (Chomitz, 1999). Demographic evolution is not linear either, and this factor plays an important role in the fate of ecosystems.

Complex reference scenarios based on models

The second line of conduct adopted by promoters in developing reference scenarios involved the use of models16. This approach was not frequent. It was for example used in theScolel Teproject in Mexico, theGuaraquecabaproject in Brazil, as well as in the projects undertaken by the FACE Foundation.

These models, such as the LUCS model developed by the WRI and used in theGuaraquecabaproject, all take into account the precise and quantitative variables involved, in order to foresee the fate of the ecosystems concerned and what alternative activity would be provided in the event the proposed project was not implemented. The proposed models integrate spatial, social and economic factors (See table3).

Table 3. General variables used in baseline elaboration models

Social factors

Population growth

Use of wood

Technology change

Harvesting practices

Economic factors

Energy demand

Food demand

Local agricultural activity

Local economy

Spatial factors

Proximity of towns

Proximity of roads

In several cases, the models were more precise than the hypotheses based upon simple arguments. Since these models are quite complicated, they required a large amount of data, which is of course only available at the regional level. This is an indication of their lower limit: models were unable to take into account any changes at the local level. The usefulness of these models is therefore questionable in the case of small-scale projects, since a great deal of data concerning local communities is not available. TheScolel Teproject in Mexico nevertheless adjusted the model in function of local community needs; the cost of this procedure was estimated US$ 20,000 (UNFCCC).

Once the reference scenarios were created, the promoters had to calculate the corresponding carbon stock variations. The IPCC has proposed a calculation method (IPCC, 1997), but the promoters usually made use of others. A number of different methods were created as a result.

One of these methods involved the use of data taken from the available literature. This approach, which is the most widely used, had been chosen in particular for the projects based on hypotheses employing simple arguments (Bilsa Biological Reserve,Rio Bravo, CARFIX, for example). The information used had been taken from different sources: FAO and FAO/CEE statistics, as well as regional or national statistics, relative to land use, agricultural production, forestry dynamics and different social factors (the need for wood and food).

Another method involved the creation of models. Only a few projects used this method: four officially registered at the UNFCCC Secretariat (Forest Rehabilitation of the Krkonose and Sumava National Parksin the Czech Republic,Rio Condorin Chili,Reforestation and Forest Conservationin Costa Rica andScolel Tein Mexico), as well as several other projects that are not officially AIJ projects. These models, like the FACE Foundation's CO2FIX model, made it possible to calculate the amount of biomass supposed to be present in the reference scenarios, while taking into account an important number of parameters concerning plants dynamics as well as forestry and agricultural practices. The limit of these models lies in their assumption that the calculated carbon amount has been either constant or in constant evolution during the entire course of the project (particularly in conservation projects). Forest dynamics are not constant during the course of its evolution, and in particular at the level of its carbon sequestration capacity. This renders the values obtained by the CO2FIX model relatively artificial,a priori. This approach could nevertheless become a usable method, on condition that it be brought up to date during the project's full lifetime.

A third method based on measuring carbon quantities in control land parcels or in areas near the proposed projects has been used by several projects:RUSAFORin the Russian Federation,Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Actionin Bolivia,Community Silviculture in Oaxacain Mexico andA E S CAREin Guatemala. The advantage offered by a method of this sort is that it makes it possible to carry out a follow-up procedure during the course of the project, and to re-evaluate the reference scenario. This characteristic had only been envisaged in a single project (Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action). It should be noted that these control parcels also served as "buffer zones" for evaluating and attempting to limit leakage.

Some projects like the one involving Burkina Faso, or thePROFAFORproject in Ecuador, have combined available literature data with measures in control land parcels. The promoters of two other projects have not included any emission calculations in their reference scenario (KLINKIproject in Costa Rica andCommercial Reforestation in the Chiriqui Provincein Panama). Instead, they assumed a zero and constant carbon quantity in the reference scenarios throughout the projects' entire lifetime, these reforestation projects having been planned for degraded lands, presumed to have no possibility of evolution.

Although the methodologies for evaluating the reference scenarios were different, four types of scenarios were inventoried during the course of the AIJ pilot phase (official AIJ and non-AIJ projects combined): "project-specific" scenarios, "generic" scenarios, static scenarios and dynamic scenarios (Table 4).

Project-specific vs. generic scenarios:

Project-specific" scenarios represent ninety percent of the scenarios created during the course of the pilot phase. This large percentage is due to the fact that the development of these scenarios makes it possible to broaden one's knowledge of the local areas concerned, and therefore to precisely predict,a priori, the number of emissions there. Unfortunately, this method also allows promoters to discreetly elaborate "favorable" reference scenarios (heavy deforestation), thereby maximizing the additionality of the projects and consequently the potential emissions credits (Tipper and de Jong, 1998). The specific nature of these scenarios makes it difficult to copy them for use in similar projects. Only theNew England Electric Systemproject in Malaysia, a low impact exploitation project, proposed a scenario based on another similar existing project, theICSB-NEP 1project in Malaysia (IPCC, 2000). The principal problem posed specific scenarios is their creation costs. These costs totaled US$ 300,000 in theAES CAREproject in Guatemala17.

Using generic scenarios make it possible to reduce the costs of baseline establishment. Generic scenarios concern different levels: the regional level (land use, agricultural practices), the technical level (agricultural and forestry techniques), or the sectoral level (conservation, low impact development, plantations). Only regional generic scenarios were used under the course of the first AIJ pilot phase. The different generic scenarios have been more frequently evaluated in the energy sector (Baumert, 1999; Michaelowa, 1999), since generic scenarios using technological references are viable in this sector. The problem is somewhat different in the forestry sector, where one refers more to technical packages and know-how than to actual technology. The transparency of this type of scenario proved to be effective in the case of the Costa Rica projects due to the intervention of an external organization in the development of the projects. The fact that these scenarios lack precision is a disadvantage, since they cannot take local level changes into consideration. TheScolel Teproject attempted to remedy this problem by including adjustments. Unfortunately, too few examples were available during the course of the AIJ pilot phase:Solel Te(Mexico),PROFAFOR(Ecuador) andCARFIXandBIODIVERSITY(Costa Rica). In the last two cases, the reference scenarios were based on the deforestation rates at the regional level and applied to the projects. This system was developed by the AIJ national office in Costa Rica.

Static vs. dynamic scenarios

The other point concerns the adjustment of reference scenarios during the implementation of the projects. In nearly all cases, the reference scenarios were firmly set for the entire project lifetime. A UNFCCC report (1997) had indicated that scenarios should not be revisable, in order to limit the supplementary costs the projects would have to absorb.

"Static" scenarios avoid supplementary costs but have less credibility. Considering the average lifetime of forestry projects, it is almost impossible to estimate precisely long-term carbon emissions associated to such projects. Static scenarios therefore can only provide relatively artificial results. They do nevertheless provide investors with some visibility and minimize the risks attendant upon distributed emission credits.

"Dynamic" scenarios have the advantage of providing regular up-dating and a true calculation of carbon emissions. Apart from the risks to investors (the possibility of a less favorable situation resulting in fewer credits than expected), this method can result in supplementary costs. One must furthermore be able to differentiate between changes that have occurred independently of the project and those changes resulting from the project's implementation.

Leakage received little attention during the pilot phase. This phenomenon was often only touched upon and no precise calculation of eventual carbon losses was presented by any project. Promoters were tempted to estimate leakage by defining an evaluation area, as for example, the project's boundaries or the neighboring region. In numerous cases, the leakage effects might have been neglected when the promoters stopped at the projects' borders (as in the RUSAFOR project, for example). Consequently, in order to evaluate leakage, the first method used was to widen the Surabaya area. The promoters were thus able to evaluate the possible risks by considering the factors that could cause deforestation effects elsewhere (growth and population movements - Brown, 1998).The disadvantage of this method lies in the fact that it does not make it possible to truly quantify the losses resulting from the implementation of projects. It only allows an evaluation of the origin of possible risks and this in a qualitative manner.

The other method, which is hardly used, is based upon a more quantitative approach. It was employed during the course of theNoel Kempffconservation project pilot phase in Bolivia, as well as in several reduced-impact logging projects. This method is based on the use of certain key factors that can signal the eventual risk of leakage. In conservation projects for example, the key factor is wood production. If production decreases as a result of the project, the leakage effect can possibly intervene (an increase in the development effort elsewhere). The method consists then in comparing the level of these indicators with regard to a " with the project" situation and a " without the project" situation. This method is of interest because it can be adapted to different levels: local, regional, national and even international if one takes exportation factors into consideration.

When the risks of leakage were recognized, different methods of dealing with them were tested, principally in conservation projects where the risks are highest. One of the methods used was the acquisition of so-called secure lands by having the proprietors sign "promises" not to develop other forest parcels and then having them participate in conservation activities (surveillance). This does not solve the problem of landless farmers, unfortunately.

Another method that was used in a number of projects (ECOLAND, Rio Bravo, Noel Kempff, Uganda National Parks)was the promotion of ecotourism, in order to develop the regions concerned by these projects. Here again, it is far from certain that the beneficiaries of ecotourism activities are the actors most involved in deforestation.

Certain multi-activity projects (CARFIX, BIODIVERSIFIX,for example) have been carried out grouping conservation and forestry management or plantation activities. They have the advantage of conserving forest parcels (the conservation part) and answering the wood needs of local communities (the forestry management part). This method involved associating energy sector activities with forestry management activities in the Burkina Faso project.

Periodic controls (aerial photographs, terrestrial surveillance) as well as financial methods (insurance, contingency funds) have also been used. Certain promoters have calculated the additionality of their project by arbitrarily taking into account a margin of error based on leakage. The Government of Costa Rica only delivers half of the emission credits that could be distributed in order to compensate for the eventual leakage in its national projects.


Baumert, K.A., 1999: The Clean Development Mechanism: understanding additionality.In: Promoting Development while Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Trends and Baselines. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and World Resources Institute, United Nations Publications, New York, N.Y., USA, pp. 135-145.

Brown, P., 1998: Climate, Biodiversity and Forests. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, USA, 35 pp.

Brown, S., M. Burnham, M. Delany, R. Vaca, M. Powell, andA. Moreno, 2000: Issues and challenges for forest-based carbon-offset Projects: A case study of the Noel Kempff Climate Action Project in Bolivia. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, (sous presse).

Chomitz, K.M., E. BrenesandL. Constantino, 1999: Financing environmental services: The Costa Rican Experience and its implications. The Science of the Total Environment, 240, 157-169.

Dixon, R.K., 1999: The U.N. Framework Convention on climate change Activity Implemented Jointly (AIJ) Pilot: Experiences and Lessons Learned. Ed. Kluwer Academic Publishersz. Dordrecht/Boston/London. 421 pp.

GIEC, 1997: Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories [J.T. Houghton, L.G. Meira Filho, B. Lim, K. Trιanton, I. Mamaty, Y. Bonduki, D.J. Griggs, B.A. Callander (eds.)]. Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, Meteorological Office, Bracknell, United Kingdom.

- Volume 1: Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reporting Instructions. 130 pp.
- Volume 2: Greenhouse Gas Inventory Workbook. 346 pp.
- Volume 3: Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reference Manual. 482 pp.

GIEC, 2000: Special Report on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry. [Robert T. Watson Ian R. Noble Bert Bolin N.H. Ravindranath David J. Verardo David J. Dokken (eds)]. Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, Meteorological Office, Bracknell, United Kingdom, Bracknell, United Kingdom. 377 pp.

Lile, R.; Powell, M.;Toman, M., 1998: Implementing the Clean Development Mechanism: Lessons from U.S. Private-Sector Participation in Activities Implmented Jointly, Discussion paper 99-0088, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.

Matsuo, N., 1999: Baselines as the critical issue of CDM-possible pathways to standardization. In: Proceeding of the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute (GISPRI) Baseline Workshop, 25-26 February. GISPRI, Tokyo, Japan, pp. 9-21.

Michaelowa, A., 1998: Joint Implementation-the baseline issue. Global Environmental Change, 8, 81-92.

Michaelowa, A., 1999: Baseline Methodologies for the CDM-Which Road to Take. Paper presented at the Institute for Global and Environmental Strategies (IGES) meeting, 23 June 1999, Tokyo, Japan, 12 pp.

Moura-Costa, P., M. Stuart, M. PinardandG. Phillips, 2000: Issues related to monitoring, verification and certification of forestry-based carbon offset projects. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, (sous presse).

Pinard, M.andF. Putz, 1997: Monitoring carbon sequestration benefits associated with reduced-impact logging project in Malaysia. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 2, 203-215.

Puhl, I., 1998: Status of Research on Project Baselines Under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and International Energy Agency Information Paper. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris, France, 15 pp.

Tipper, R.andB.H. de Jong, 1998: Quantification and regulation of carbon offsets from forestry: comparison of alternative methodologies, with special reference to Chiapas, Mexico. Commonwealth Forestry Review, 77, 219-228.

Tipper, R., B.H. de Jong, S. Ochoa-Gaona, M.L Soto-Pinto, M.A. Castillo-Santiago, G. Montoya-GσmezandI. March-Mifsut, 1998: Assessment of the Cost of Large Scale Forestry for CO2Sequestration: Evidence from Chiapas, Mexico. Report PH12, International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas R&D Program, Cheltenham, Gloucester, United Kingdom, 87 pp.

United Nations climate change convention Secretariat (UNCCCS), 1997: UNFCCC AIJ Methodological Issues.

Internet Sites: - site describing the projects undertaken by AES. - European Forestry Institute site. Possibility to download the CO2FIX model

with its description. - American information site on research concerning global change.

Publications and numerous links. - GEF site. Description of GEF projects. - International Finance Corporation site (World Bank). - Intergovernmental Group on climate change site. LULUCF Report.

IPCC, 2000 can be downloaded. American site for MOC projects. - Nordic Environment Finance Corporation site. Economic data

on MOC projects. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development site.

Economic statistics and reports on flexibility mechanisms. - Belize conservation project site. World Resources Institute site. Model for the creation of reference

scenarios available on line. Publications on research concerning reference scenarios. - official site of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change. reports of MOC projects on line

14Greenhouse gas emissions
15Geographic information system (remote sensing, computer-assisted cartography)
16The models used are available without cost on Internet or by mail. The LUCS model can be downloaded from the World Resources Institute's Internet site, The model used by the FACE Foundation can also be downloaded from the European Forestry Institute's Internet site,
17Data provided by web-site.

Previous PageTop Of Page