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Establishing baseline emissions rates for REDD+

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Tropical forests store the most carbon per hectare of any land cover on earth. When forests are degraded or converted, carbon that was previously stored in forest biomass and soils is decomposed and released to the atmosphere, contributing an estimated 15% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions globally. For over a decade a financial incentive scheme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD plus) has been under development, and gathering momentum under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Investors in carbon credits generated from REDD plus to offset carbon emissions will seek assurances that emissions reductions are genuine, requiring the development of robust and transparent monitoring systems to evaluate the effectiveness of REDD plus interventions. Emissions reductions will be calculated by comparing actual emissions during an implementation period with the predicted emissions, based on models of how much carbon would have been emitted under a business-as-usual scenario. However one of the greatest criticisms of the scientific community working on REDD plus is the inability to predict these future emissions with accuracy and reliability. Using data from a well studied site in Sierra Leone I will assess different approaches to predicting future emissions at the project scale, and secondly examine how lessons learned from small REDD plus projects such as this can be used to scale up activities to the national level.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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