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Additional resources for Accounting of biological sinks and sources under the Kyoto Protocol : a step forwards or backwards for global environmental protection?

Sample text

In the following, we assess the concrete accounting-related provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, in conjunction with the IPCC Guidelines for estimation of source and sink impacts to which the Protocol refers, against the background of the science presented in Sections 4 to 6 above. 1 Calculation approach One critical point of the net approach established by the Kyoto Protocol is that sources and sinks relating to land-use change and forestry are not included in the definition of the 1990 baseline emissions, on which the calculation of permitted emissions is based.

This explains why in young forest stands, high rates of carbon assimilation occur in conjunction with low carbon stocks, while old stands have low rates of annual growth but large stocks and the carbon pool of the ecosystem continues to rise. Due to the periodical disturbances by harvesting, the total carbon pool of managed forests is lower than that of primary forests (Figs. 11b, c, d). In management systems with continuous selection cutting, human impacts are relatively slight (Fig. 11b). Carbon stocks are generally reduced in the same degree that the intensity of management rises and the rotation lengths of forest stands are shortened.

With stocks ranging between 50 t C ha-1 (dry forest) and 186 t C ha-1 (rainforest), this means a release of 40–167 t C ha-1 from the biomass. When forests are converted to agricultural lands, biomass losses are generally joined by soil carbon losses, which vary as a function of climatic conditions and management methods. The figures reported in the literature on carbon losses resulting from conversion to cropland vary greatly (Annex Table 7), and average 25–30% over 1 m soil depth (Houghton, 1995; Davidson and Ackermann, 1993).

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