Community Based Forest Management as a Climate Strategy (with carbon as a non-timber forest product)

Margaret Skutsch

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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Under the Kyoto Protocol, forestry is permitted as a sink measure under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), but only in the form of ‘afforestation’ and ‘reforestation’. These tend to involve large-scale plantation systems, which although cost effective in terms of carbon sequestered, in most cases have only limited benefits to local populations. Many communities in developing countries however transform unsustainable management of existing natural forest, to sustainable management, under a variety of programmes such as JFM and CBFM, which are unrelated to climate change. This type of management does result in additional carbon sequestration, but credit for this cannot be claimed under CDM. One of the reasons for not recognising the sink capacity of community based management initiatives is undoubtedly the difficulty of measuring the carbon saved, and various uncertainties such as leakage and permanence. There are strict rules about how carbon can be measured and rigorous data will be a prerequisite if such projects are to be accepted under the climate convention. However the cost of employing professional scientific methods to gather and process such data (the so called ‘transaction costs’) are likely to be prohibitive, meaning that any financial gains by the community as a result of ‘selling’ their carbon, will be wiped out. The trick is then to find techniques which can at least partially be carried out by the communities themselves, at a much lower cost, and to demonstrate that these are as reliable as ‘expert’ methods. A research project carried out by the University of Twente, ITC and three regional research institutes (in Nepal, Tanzania and Senegal) is testing carbon assessment methods involving the use of handheld GPS/GIS devices by local communities who are already engaged in community forest management activities. The purpose of the research is to demonstrate that such communities can make reliable assessments of the increased sink values of their forest and monitor this over an extended time period. If this objective can be realised, it may begin to open the way for these communities to supplement their forest based livelihoods through the ‘sale’ of their carbon as a nontimber forest product in the future.
Original languageUndefined
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventNinth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC CoP-9 - Milan, Italy,
Duration: 1 Dec 200312 Dec 2003


ConferenceNinth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC CoP-9
OtherDecember 1-12, 2003


  • IR-60533

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