CDM in the Forestry Sector
Dr Anish Chatterjee
At the Ninth Conference of the Parties (CoP9) of the
Climate Change Convention, many of the LULUCF issues of the Protocol
were finally settled and a decision was made to allow certain forms of
sinks – afforestation and reforestation projects – to be carried out
under the CDM. The developing countries who are party to the Kyoto
Protocol can now avail this benefit of carbon credits from their
forestry activities. The present article critically examines some of the
aspects of CDM in forestry sector in India.
forest cover of India is estimated to be 63.73 million hectares in terms
of its area, constituting 19.39 percent of the country’s total
geographic area. Out of this, 11.48 percent is dense forest, 7.76
percent is open forest and 0.15 percent is mangrove forest.
Sequestration Capacity of Indian Forests
The average annual wood production is
52 million cubic meter (cum). The sequestration capacity can be computed
in two ways: by volume of biomass and by total forest area.
volume of wood production can be converted into total biomass by
assuming a mean wood density of 0.52 t/m3. The ratio of total
biomass to usable stem biomass was assumed by the German Bundestag to be
1.6 for closed forests and 3 for open forest. In this present
analysis, an average figure of 2.3 has been assumed. One cum. of
stem wood is therefore equivalent to 2.3m3 of total bimoass.
One cum. of
biomass (stem, roots, branches, etc.) absorbs 0.26 tonnes of carbon (tc).
Since the annual production of biomass from the Indian forests is 52
million cum, the total annual CO2 sequestration capacity of our forests
works out to be approximately 31 million tc (mtc).
we assume the carbon sequestration figure given by R.A. Sedjo (Forest to
offset the Greenhouse Effect. Journal of Forestry, 1989, 87.7: 12-15.)
for tropical forests as 6.24 tc/ha/yr and adopt the same for the total
Indian forest cover of 64 mha (1991) and 77 mha(present), the
sequestration capacity of Indian forests is very encouraging.
annual sequestration capacity of Indian forest works out to be 399 mtc
(1479 million tonnes of CO2 emissions), which is practically ten times
more than the sequestration capacity computed by taking the total volume
of biomass (31 mtc).
that dense forest cover not only provides a carbon sink but also
preserves the biological diversity, urgent steps are required to speed
up afforestation and reforestation activities in India, more so to take
advantage of the recently approved CDM project activities in the
for Indian Forestry
Afforestation and reforestation
activities moderate the climate and precipitation regimes of a given
area; prevent soil erosion and increase the water retention capacity of
the land; increase soil fertility by ensuring the perennial addition of
organic matter to the soil; and thereby both reverse land degradation
and increase its commercial value.
Afforestation and reforestation activities pursued under CDM project
activities offer considerable opportunity to achieve sustainable
(economic, social, environmental and technological) development of the
forest community and to improve their quality of life. Such
afforestation and reforestation activities could then be continued under
the country’s normal forestry programme.
annual rate of afforestation in India, which is about 2 million hectares
(under various programmes such as social forestry, watershed development
and wasteland development), can be significantly increased by CDM
The CDM LULUCF policy has not escaped
criticism. It has been criticized by environmentalists, as it allows for
forestry that is not environment- friendly, as it leaves the door open
for monoculture plantations (biodiversity concerns), even for GM plants.
little opportunity for stakeholder involvement. For developing
countries, CDM is seen as a mechanism for sustainable development. If
the communities are not involved and the benefits are not transferred to
them, then whose sustainable development are we talking about?
also like to highlight the gender implications of LULUCF projects. The
main concern for women is the availability of fuel wood for cooking,
which they collect free from the surrounding areas. The concern is
whether we are depriving the women of easy availability of fuel wood and
increasing their drudgery, in the name of development.
concern is negotiating with the buyers. The buyers would try to get
maximum carbon credits at a minimum possible price. Will it be possible
for the developing countries to stand up to their pressure and get
higher values of carbon credits?
concern is that during the first commitment period (up to 2012),
management activities of existing forests are not eligible for LULUCF
projects. Does that mean we promote afforestation and reforestation in
one area and degradation/deforestation in another area? Or, are they
left for the National Governments of developing countries to take care
some of the concerns that need to be answered at CoP 10.
It may be
undoubtedly concluded that the positives of Forestry CDM projects
outweigh the negatives. A developing country like India could benefit
immensely from this market based mechanism, provided it can negotiate
well in international carbon markets. We are optimistic that something
positive and meaningful for the poor, who suffer the most, would emanate
from CoP 10 decisions and the gender factor is taken care of in the
sustainability aspect of the projects. A country like India, which has
already set up the Designated National Authority (DNA), and is taking
positive steps, may encourage forestry projects. While important issues
of national sovereignty and ownership of afforested areas and
participation of local communities in CDM activities would have to be
negotiated prior to the commencement of the initiatives, the potential
benefits are obvious. Therefore, India should capitalize on the
present CDM initiative in the forestry sector.
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