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New tool to improve assessment of forest biomass and carbon stocks

Better forest data needed to tackle climate change and develop bioenergy strategies

Photo: ©FAO/North West Sub-FIPI
The new tool allows users to assess tree biomass and carbon stocks by measuring trunk diameter and height, Lao Cao Province, Vietnam.

28 June 2013, Rome - A new online platform launched by FAO will allow countries to improve the assessment of forest volumes, biomass and carbon stocks. This data is crucial for climate change research and mitigation activities, such as increasing the carbon stock in forests through reforestation, and bioenergy development.

The new GlobAllomeTree, jointly developed by FAO, the French Research Centre CIRAD and Tuscia University of Italy, is an international, web-based platform designed to help climate-change project developers, researchers, scientists and foresters calculate forest biomass and forest carbon. This data will assist national policymakers in making informed decisions about their climate change and bioenergy strategies. 

“This is the first time that countries have access to an extensive database of tree models used to evaluate forest resources worldwide. It allows them to get a clear picture on their forests’ capacities to store carbon,” said FAO Forestry Officer Matieu Henry.

Easy to access and use

The tool enables users to assess stem volume, tree biomass and carbon stocks from tree characteristics such as trunk diameter, height and wood specific gravity, for various types of trees and ecological zones.

Access to the tool is free and users can also develop and submit their own calculation models.

At current status, the tool covers 61 tree species in 7 different ecological zones in Europe, 263 tree species in 16 ecological zones in North America and 324 species in 9 ecological zones in Africa.  The calculation tools for South Asia, South-East Asia and Central and South America are soon to be finalized and uploaded to the platform.

Forest
carbon estimation for REDD+

This new platform will be particularly useful in the context of REDD+ activities (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and increasing the carbon stock in forests), where governments will need more accurate assessment of the forest carbon stocks and carbon stock changes. 

In this context, a few countries have already advanced their approaches to forest monitoring for REDD+ by using tree calculation models. For example, national institutions in Vietnam supported by the UN-REDD National Programme have conducted field measurements to develop new calculation models in a number of forest types throughout the country. Indonesia has produced and adopted a national standard for developing tree databases, and in Mexico, national forest authorities have developed a national database and new calculation tools.

These efforts will help countries to obtain more accurate data on the status of forest resources and forest carbon stocks and changes and support implementation of national and international forestry policies.