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Terms relating forest change processes to greenhouse gas emissions and removals.

The current initiative under UNFCCC centres less on deforestation per se, but rather on the emissions caused by deforestation or unsustainable use of forests. Conceivably, it could also include greenhouse gas removals by forests if net emissions are the concern. In this context, deforestation area or an attrition of growing stock in a forest serves only as proxy variables. Correlation between these variables and related greenhouse gas emissions may be low, because the carbon pools defined by the Kyoto Protocol, that is, above-ground biomass, below-ground biomass, dead wood , litter and soil organic matter, may vary tremendously in absolute amounts, in relative proportions and in their reaction to human activities. Moreover, parties may resolve to account for other carbon pools, above all harvested wood products, which tend to counterbalance carbon stock changes in the forest.

The 2003 IPCC Good Practice Guidelines (IPCC, 2003) and the 2006 IPCC Guidelines (IPCC, 2007) offer methods, default activity data, parameters and terminology to quantify emissions from all of these pools. Therefore any final accord on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries should not only specify the pools and greenhouse gases covered, but also employ consistent terminology. Contrary to past experiences, where terms and definitions had to be harmonized ex post, terminology may advantageously be standardized ex ante.

The glossary (Appendix I) defines core terms, such as above-ground biomass, below-ground biomass, dead wood, litter and soil organic matter, biomass expansion factors and biomass conversion and expansion factors

Supporting terms

Table 5 relates relevant additional terms (IPCC, 2007).

Table 5: Terminology for stocks and changes in forests (IPCC, 2007)



stock increase

stock decrease

merchantable volume

growing stock

net annual increment

wood removals

biomass in the merchantable volume

growing stock biomass

increment biomass

removals biomass

total above-ground biomass

above-ground biomass

above-ground biomass growth

above-ground biomass removals

total below-ground biomass

below-ground biomass

below-ground biomass growth

below-ground biomass removals

total above-and below-ground biomass

total biomass

total biomass growth

biomass removals


carbon in any of the compartments above, e.g. carbon in growing stock or biomass removals, or in litter, deadwood and soil organic matter

Felling during forest harvesting may damage or destroy additional trees in the above-ground biomass which are not removed. Unless Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) is applied, typical stand damages in conventional logging in many developing countries range from 10% to 70% of the residual trees (FAO, 2004), depending on logging intensity. Site damage in the form of soil compaction, soil disturbance, or erosion will also release greenhouse gases from other carbon pools.

Only a fraction of the carbon in the biomass removals ends up in long-term product storage. Carbon in the biomass remaining on site and carbon in conversion by-products, e.g. sawdust, will be emitted relatively quickly. In many developing countries, the lumber recovery factor may be as low as 10%, and rarely averages more than 30% of the removals biomass (FAO, 2004).

Issues and choices

Parties may consider:

• if and how to relate deforestation and forest change processes within forests to greenhouse gas emissions and removals;

♦ using terminology employed and defined in the relevant IPCC Guidelines.

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