terrestrial carbon cycle is spatially and temporally extremely
heterogeneous and variable due to species, climate, management
and disturbance regimes. Terrestrial uptake and release
of carbon are also totally decoupled in terms of temporal
dynamics: release of carbon through oxidation is fast, occurring
mostly through disturbances (fires, pests, harvesting, etc.),
while accumulation of carbon through photosynthesis is slow
and can take centuries. The terrestrial biota needs to be
managed to increase carbon sequestration and help achieve
mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
to increasing awareness of perturbation in the global climate
system and the entry into force of international environmental
treaties, there is an urgent need to understand, predict
and quantify the global carbon budget and its temporal and
spatial behaviour. TCO’s overarching goals are to
better identify the potential end users, and their requirements;
organize and coordinate reliable data and information on
carbon; and link the science community with potential users.
considers three broad categories of information (in situ;
satellite; and terrestrial ecosystem data) from the local
to the regional and global scales, providing information
on the spatial and temporal distribution of terrestrial
carbon sources and sinks.
process understanding and prediction of future climate feedbacks
and vulnerabilities associated with terrestrial carbon are
the primary focus of science programmes, the new TCO mission
is to focus on specific products, such as: an operational
database system; validated and parameterized models; manuals,
standard methodologies and related documentation; productivity
estimates; and the creation of a common forum for scientists
and stakeholders interested in carbon accounting.
duplication and overlaps with other monitoring programmes,
TCO – in collaboration with Integrated Global Carbon
Observation (IGCO) – plans to establish a post-doctoral
position to work on terrestrial carbon which will be jointly
supported by FAO and UNESCO, and to work in close collaboration
with the Global Carbon Project (GCP).
Launch a global database for information on terrestrial
carbon and non-CO2 GHG gases and their spatial and temporal
Contribute to the harmonization and validation process by
bridging the gap between dataoriented models and process-oriented
Test the methodological approach of carbon accounting at
various spatial scales, with a specific emphasis on the
regional scale, and ensure comparability amongst regions
having different socio-economic and environmental contexts.
Identify regions where coverage is lacking and promote action
to rectify these deficiencies. Regional examples should
include Central and Southeast Asia, Amazonia, the Euro-Siberian
region, and Africa. To this end, the CARBOAFRICA project
(funded by the 6th Framework Programme of the European Union)
will expand the existing flux network in the under-represented
region of sub-Saharan Africa.
Promote the inclusion of the avoided deforestation in the
framework of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto protocol.
Support multilateral environmental conventions, not only
responding to their requests, but also providing suggestions,
instruments and products useful for environmental and socio-economic
Provide a clearinghouse for initiatives contributing to
meet the requirements of the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) and the Rio Conventions.
Develop dissemination and capacity building, focusing mostly
on the higher education sector and on methodological and
institutional aspects of terrestrial carbon management.