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Annex 2: Preparatory files for activity identification

In Chapter 4 of the document entitled "Land use, land use change and forestry" (IPCC, 2000), the IPCC identifies the activities that could participate in climate change mitigation. This approach is repeated here in order to present four forestry or agro-forestry activities that are of particular interest for Africa.

Agro-forestry and multiple-use plantations.

Activity definition/description

Systems in which crops and different plants are combined : trees or bushes based upon their different functions (environmental, agro ecological or production), fertilizing plants (wood plants), medical plants or different crops combined with one another.

These agro-forestry areas act as " carbon sinks" due to the trees planted there. This is based less on the amount of carbon stored per area unit than on the area in question. The karite parks in Mali, for example, cover nearly four million hectares (Griffon and Mallet, 1999).

Use and potential in Africa

Africa can reap important advantages from agroforestry. All the countries located in an "agroclimate area" are capable of applying these techniques, particularly on degraded land. Accessibility to water is an important factor, which excludes countries located in the Sahel region.

Agro-forestry, based upon crop and activity diversification, can be more easily developed in areas with a large population density that have an important farm dynamic. Agro-forestry is a tool with considerable potential for Africa.

Present knowledge and scientific uncertainties

Agro-forestry strategies are presently available for the different cultivated ecosystems in Africa, whether these be in dry, humid, high altitude or outlying suburb areas. Present knowledge makes it possible to choose among the different strategies for a given area those that will maximize the producers' benefits as well as those of the communities concerned. The multiple roles played by trees and plants when combined with crops are often little known, as is the case with the methods for optimizing these agroforestry systems.

Methods for calculating the effect of emissions reduction

There are methods for estimating the variations in the quantity of soil carbon and epigean biomass resulting from agroforestry techniques Crop diversity can complicate this estimation process, even though tools have been developed for calculating carbon quantities in small trees and bushes (Palm et al., 2000).

Time scale and controls

A period of ten years is needed for evaluating the impact of these activities on soil carbon stores (IPCC, 2000). Verification can be carried out using several different tools. Direct measurements of soil carbon rates can also be made. GIS11 techniques can be used, given the structuring of the landscape created by agroforestry activities.

Reversibility and permanence

The risks concerning the possible reversibility of the accumulated carbon stores are principally linked to land use change. Replacement with pasture land or slash-and-burn agriculture is conceivable. Natural catastrophes (fire, illness, pests) also represent a risk, although it is a small one in a system of this type.

In order to compensate for the reversibility risks linked to land use change, agroforestry activities must provide a profitable economy with benefits that can be distributed as widely as possible.

Combined impacts

The multi-functional nature of trees and bushes can benefit the environment (soil protection against erosion, water regulation [ground water], maintenance of biological diversity) and have certain agroecological effects as well (maintenance of soil fertility, microclimatic effects on the environment).

This diversified activity provides a source of sustainable supplementary revenue for local communities (medicinal plants, timber, resins). By recreating forestry and pasture areas, it permits the growth of breeding areas that can provide income (Griffon and Mallet, 1999). Agro-forestry also makes it possible to structure rural and landscape space (land ownership determination, organization of agricultural, forestry and pasture spaces).


Reduced impact logging

Activity definition/description

Reduced impact logging is primarily concerned with the conservation of developed forest stands, and consequently with carbon sinks as well. This activity, which falls under the heading of development plans implementation, makes it possible, through the development and utilization of structured felling methods, (planning networks of skidding tracks and wood reserves, directional felling, thinning), to minimize the collateral damage inflicted during the course of ground level forestry felling, and to rivers and trees that have not been harvested. Damage avoided in this manner results in efficient and natural forest regeneration and the maintenance of biodiversity, and also helps remedy the excessive degradation of carbon stores caused by conventional development practices.

Use and potential in Africa

This activity can provide the countries of Central and West Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Gabon, Congo and Cameroon) that have large massifs of dense natural forests with a sustainable management tool for their economically profitable forests, but only under certain conditions. These countries must focus their attention on the sustainable aspect of this activity, since their natural forests will be a principal source of timber for several decades to come (FAO, 1999). In order for them to achieve clear and significant carbon gains as well as development profitability, they must have the firm will to carry out long-term forestry policies covering large land areas.

Present knowledge and scientific uncertainties

The techniques used in low impact development are well known today, as they have often been used in the industrialized countries and have been tested in certain tropical regions for the past several years. The felling rate in Africa of approximately 1-2 saplings/ha (Bertault & Kadir, 1998) is compatible with low impact development techniques. These techniques must however be adapted for use in tropical forests, as they are linked to the dendrological and structural characteristics of these forests. Studies on the dynamics of dense and humid forests are presently under way, in order to facilitate this adaptation. The principal obstacle is the lack of qualified personnel to carry out the necessary inventories, which are indispensable for the planning of the different operational stages of this development activity.

Methods for calculating the effect of emissions reduction

The carbon store calculation method in low impact development projects is based on the inventory carried out at the beginning of the projects. The inventory makes it possible to calculate the amount of carbon store to the ton as well as its evolution, through the use of forecasting models. A "reference scenario" can be created using data from the literature concerning the damage caused by conventional forestry development practices. The carbon stores calculated by taking into account low impact development practices can then be compared to those resulting from the first calculation, in order to establish the environmental additionality of the projects. The data required for these calculations are sufficient at present to precisely define the net carbon gains resulting from these projects.

Time scale and controls

The time scale needed for these sustainable management projects can be seriously affected by the lack of established forestry policies in Africa, which can be a veritable brake on this type of initiative and its potential carbon gains. Once under way however, these projects seldom encounter any real difficulties with regard to follow-up and evaluation. The planning of the projects' operations allows for easily carried out controls, including rapid field visits at regular intervals or aerial photographs, since development damage is clearly visible to the naked eye. This makes it possible to achieve a large degree of transparency regarding the results obtained.

Reversibility and permanence

Aside from natural risks (fire, pests) and illegal exploitation, the major risks involved in low impact development are due to the sustainable character of forestry management. In African countries, price fluctuations for wood that are linked to the economic instability of these countries are conducive to short-term forestry policies that are incompatible with low impact development practices aiming to achieve carbon sink conservation. The employees charged with the task of felling trees are paid according to the volume of wood they produce, which does not encourage them to follow the low impact method of tree felling, which requires a longer time.

If these techniques are correctly applied however (by task planning), productivity can be increased and wood losses reduced (Barreto et al.,1998), resulting in an increase in average profits. This type of exploitation can then become profitable. If all the personnel involved were allowed to share in this profitability (by a distribution of profits), the permanent nature of the activity and of the carbon stores would be assured.

Combined impacts

The benefits to the environment provided by low impact development techniques are considerable. They include the preservation of the fauna and flora as well as of the soil and rivers, due primarily to the inventories taken, which make it possible to carefully select the areas to be developed as against those that have an ecological value that should be preserved.

These techniques are a fundamental sustainable management tool that is economically profitable, since they increase development benefits, following an initial phase involving investment, training and familiarization with the tools to be used.

This type of activity carried out within the framework of forestry development can make it possible to obtain certification for the wood produced during the project.

Regeneration / planting

Activity definition/description

Planting young trees on recently deforested land as part of regeneration makes it possible to naturally recreate a forest cover or shelter, in order to restore as precisely as possible the ecological and socioeconomic functions of natural forests.

Plantation for purely commercial reasons is generally undertaken with the objective of cultivating economically worthwhile forestry species (Eucalyptus, mangium acacia), frequently for the timber or wood pulp trade.

These two types of activities contribute to the mitigation of climate change by sequestering organic carbon in biosphere stores, through the photosynthesis mechanisms that transform atmospheric carbon (CO2) into organic carbon, a tree component.

Production orientation also plays a part in mitigating climate change, by concentrating on the useful life of the forestry products (timber, poles) resulting from regeneration or plantation activities.

Use and potential in Africa

All African countries, apart from those situated in the Sahel region, have the potential for implementing these activities. This depends however on whether they are regeneration or plantation activities.

Regeneration involves deforested areas or degraded lands in favorable agroclimatic areas, where water is available on a sustainable basis.

Plantation requires potential land ownership availability for the private sector. Areas with a low population density are preferable, since the large land areas needed to carry out this activity might compete with the areas allocated to agriculture. As in the case of regeneration activities, water access is a key factor in implementing these projects.

Present knowledge and scientific uncertainties

Many forestry species have been studied, and their reproduction cycles and the silviculture methods associated with them are well understood today. Among these forestry species, a varied range of species used for timber, fuelwood and wood pulp are now available for regeneration or plantation.

Present scientific knowledge however does not permit the cultivation of all the forestry species that have been listed and thus to recreate the original natural forests.

Methods for calculating the effect of emissions reduction

Calculating the variations in carbon stores introduces the problem of time, particularly with regard to regeneration projects. Carbon sequestration activity normally calls for long-term action. Carbon variations are therefore very difficult to precisely quantify.

Certain models (CO2FIX12 and LUCS13) are used for this calculation, whether in regeneration or plantation. They make it possible to estimate the additional carbon stores in function of the different factors linked to planted forestry species (annual growth, rotation frequency) and the soil (enrichment with organic matter). The calculated quantities are then compared to those which could be produced by another activity (agriculture, pasture), i.e. to a reference scenario.

Controls, verifiability and transparency

Visits and regular studies would be sufficient for verifying the continuity of carbon stores, and in particular for certifying the felling activities (whether unauthorized or not) of planted species, such as the okoume plantations in Gabon.


The principal risk lies in the land use changes resulting from the inadequate viability of regeneration or plantation activities. These activities would be replaced by short-term activities (pasture, crops). Illegal felling can contribute to a decline in the profitability of these activities, such as land degradation resulting from pasturing activity.

Natural catastrophes (epidemics, pests, and fire) are also a reversibility risk, in particular in single species plantation.


The conservation of accumulated carbon stores calls for the presence of a manager and the viability of the activity in question (regeneration or plantation), with a fair division of income between the different actors participating in this activity.

A pricing system favoring wood plantation is needed (e.g. no felling tax on the plantations) in order to contribute to the profitability of the forestry activities and their continuity.

Combined impacts

Unlike regeneration activities, plantations present the risk of reducing biological diversity. They do however make it possible to retain runoff waters, thus preserving the ground water, particularly in slope areas. Both of these activities help protect the watersheds, due to the planted species root systems.

Conservation of forests threatened by agricultural conversion

Activity definition/description

The conservation of threatened forests consists principally in slowing down or totally preventing deforestation activities by protecting the areas concerned from the causes of such deforestation. The most commonly employed method is acquiring property in the threatened areas and raising their status to that of a natural reserve or national park. Another method consists of seeking out the causes of this deforestation (agricultural pioneer fronts, demand for wood). In such cases, the actors participating in the deforestation must be reconverted and provided with the wood they require. They could then participate in forest protection activities such as the prevention and surveillance of natural catastrophe risks (fires, pests) and the illegal felling of trees.

These activities could help prevent a large discharge of carbon into the atmosphere by conserving it in biosphere stores, thus limiting the evolution of climate change.

Use and potential in Africa

The African countries that are likely to be concerned by forest conservation activities are those that have large forestry massifs, since the size of the land area to be protected is one of the criteria that must be taken into account for this activity. Six countries would thus be able to implement conservation activities within their frontiers: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Madagascar and Mozambique. These countries are located in a climate zone that is favorable for forestry conservation. The Democratic Republic of Congo however, the country that has the largest potential in this regard, is too unstable at the present time to be able to carry out a forestry conservation policy.

Present knowledge and scientific uncertainties

The methodologies used for conserving forests are well known and are being widely applied at the present time. The techniques for preventing forest fires and the ravages of pests have been under study for years, but important work must still be done in this area, and in the battle against insects in particular. The large land area involved in conservation projects is an additional problem that must be resolved.

It is difficult to determine and above all to quantify all the causes of deforestation. The models being used at present are recent ones, created to evaluate the dynamics of land use change at the regional but not the local level.

Methods for calculating the effect of emissions reduction

Calculating emissions reductions linked to conservation projects requires an inventory of the forestry massifs to discover the size of the initial carbon store.

The activities that might have caused the deforestation of these massifs must be qualitatively and quantitatively determined in order to estimate the potential carbon losses. Simulation models of land use change based upon the regional socioeconomic context have been created with this goal in mind. Data from the literature on regional agricultural practices can also be used and extrapolated for the future.

Time and control scale

Conservation projects can be considered long-term perspectives. Supervising the maintenance of carbon stores is therefore of the utmost importance. This can be done by carrying out studies and organizing regular field visits, as well as by surveillance using aerial or satellite photographs.

Reversibility and permanence

The conservation of forestry massifs is the forestry activity in which the risks of reversibility are highly important. Local encouragement for this activity is often very weak. Conservation projects generally do not provide large amounts of income. In order to meet their needs, local communities are often more interested in converting forestry areas into areas that can be cultivated or into pasturage. Illegal exploitation and natural catastrophes are other major risks.

An income source for conservation activities must be created, in order to guarantee the permanence of the protected forestry massifs. The development of ecotourism as well as prevention and surveillance activities can also contribute to this goal.

The development of " buffer zones" can be another way of meeting local needs (wood, land area suitable for cultivation and breeding areas). Surveys regarding these needs must also be undertaken.

Combined impacts

The principal effect of the activities for conserving forestry massifs is in the conservation of their original biological diversity and in the maintenance of biological cycles, including the carbon and water cycles.

In the regions concerned by these activities, the gains can often exceed the mere patrimonial stakes. This type of action can help favor "green tourism". Regional development through ecotourism could be a potential source of income that the local communities would have at their disposal.

11 Geographic information system
12 This model is available to the public on Internet site
13 This model is available to the public on Internet site

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