Among all the inhabitants of planet Earth, we, human beings can be considered the smartest for we make use of all the natural resources obtained from our surrounding such as Land, Water, Soil, Plants, Animals to make a comfortable living. But sadly, judging by the actions that we have done and the situation that we have put ourselves in, we are no longer smart. Rather, we are stupid for letting this resources gradually go to waste.
Focusing on a particular area of natural resources–Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF), Ginger Ooi , Nur Anisah and Oliver Kumaran will provide three different perspectives. Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF).
Land use, Land Use Change and Forest (LULUCF) is one of the important climate mitigation actions. It is defined by United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) as “A greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use, land use change and forestry activities”.
Land is divided into managed land and unmanaged land. Land is considered managed if it has been affected by direct human intervene whereas unmanaged for all other lands which is largely inaccessible by human. With the increase in human population and development, the demand of land is getting higher. We are converting land faster than the ecosystem can recover by itself. Most lands are converted into human settlements, agricultural and industry.
LULUCF is responsible for the source and sink of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Forest helps to remove GHG and it is a cost effective ways to combat climate change. However, GHG will be released if the sink damaged and act as a source of GHG instead. Scientist reported Amazon forest losing carbon-storing ability as the increasing high temperature has caused death of millions of trees than growth. “Tree mortality rates have increased by more than a third since the mid-1980, and this is affecting the Amazon’s capacity to store carbon” said Roel Brienen of the University of Leeds. Furthermore, 40% of the land today has converted to agricultural land to meet the food demand. We are developing lands in an unsustainable way and caused irreversible damage to ecosystem such as habitat loss, extinction of terrestrial species, altered land surface and release of carbon soil. From research study estimated that CO2 emission from land use change and forestry is 10-15% of total human induced emission.
Many countries are adopting good management practices in LULUCF but it is difficult to estimate GHS removals and emissions. In order to obtain accurate information, the data collected must be adequate, consistent, complete and transparent. With the emergence of technology, remote sensing techniques have been introduced to obtain map of land use of all areas in a country. This can be done through sensors on board satellites or by camera equipped with optical or infrared films which installed in aircraft. The collected data help to estimate the land area and cover, follow by ground survey data to ensure accuracy in image classification. Among the most important types of Remote Sensing data are aerial photographs, satellite imagery using visible and/or near-infrared bands, and satellite or airborne radar imagery.
We are uncertain about how much carbon can be restored from LULUCF in future, depending on the commitment given by world leaders who manage to walk the talks and also influence from climate change. I believe sustainable management of LULUCF is a way forward to conserve the carbon stock for present without compromising the needs for future.
The Acronym LULUCF
LULUCF is an acronym for the ‘Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry’. It is defined by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use, land-use change, and forestry activities.
The exchange of carbon between atmosphere and terrestrial biosphere through photosynthesis and plant and soil respiration is a natural process that has been occurring for millions of years. However, humans have changed and altered the rate of carbon exchange between atmosphere and terrestrial biosphere through the land use, land-use change and forestry activities, thus contributing to climate change.
Realising the importance of its contribution to the climate change, the Kyoto Protocol, under the Article 3, Paragraph 3, declared that the greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with the land use, land-use change and forestry activities shall be reported by each Party during the commitment period. Later, the Parties have also agreed to use the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC Guidelines) for estimation of greenhouse gas emissions and removals for LULUCF.
In order to assist the Parties in the Kyoto Protocol to provide their reports, the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) requested a report examining the scientific and technical implications of carbon sequestration strategies related to these activities. To meet that request, the IPCC Special Report on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (SR-LULUCF) was produced. The SR-LULUCF provides relevant scientific and technical information in three parts: the description on how the global carbon cycle operates and provides a context for the sections on afforestation, reforestation and deforestation (ARD) and additional human-induced activities; addresses important issues related to definitions and accounting rules; and also identifies the range of options, their implications and interrelationships among options; and provides useful information for government in several issues.
LULUCF was mentioned in the Marrakesh Accords, agreements reached at 7th Conference of the Parties (COP 7) under the Decision 11/CP.7. The Accords provided definitions for four additional LULUCF activities which are forest management, cropland management, grazing land management, and revegetation (in Kyoto Protocol, Article 3 Paragraph 3, only forest and ARD were mentioned). The definition for “forest” was also revised. The same Decision 11/CP.7 (Paragraph 3) also invited IPCC to produce a report on good practice guidance on LULUCF.
To meet that request, the Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (GPG-LULUCF) was produced to guide on the good practice for LULUCF, in consistence with the Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines. Since the Parties had already agreed to use the IPCC Guidelines for estimating greenhouse emissions and removals, the role of GPG-LULUCF was not to replace the IPCC Guidelines, but rather to provide advice consistent with them. In addition, GPG-LULUCF was needed as the Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (GPG2000) did not cover the land-use change and forestry (LUCF) activities. The latest 2006 IPCC Guidelines was produced as an integration of Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines (for agriculture) and LULUCF.
This integration recognized that the process of greenhouse gas emissions and removals can occur across all type of lands and an improvement in consistency and completeness of the estimations and reports is needed.
As LULUCF is an interrelated issue to other things beside climate change, the UNFCCC also cooperates with other organizations such as the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO), and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).
Beyond its definition
What is LULUCF?
IPCC’s definition: “A greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use, land-use change and forestry activities.”
Land use, land use change, and forestry (LULUCF) is both a source of anthropogenic carbon emissions and a potential source of emissions mitigation. The simplest explanation of LULUCF is land conversion for agriculture and other uses; i.e. emissions that occur when a section of land is cleared for housing, for example. The main categories of land use are forest land, croplands, grassland, wetlands, settlements, and other land (outside the previous 5 categories). Of these, forests play a vital role in acting as a ‘carbon sink’ for the planet; as forests grow, they accumulate carbon in their biomass (e.g. trunks, branches), leaf litter (e.g. dead wood, falling leaves) and organic carbon in soil.
The impacts of LULUCF
Globally, the LULUCF sector is a source of 20% of global GHG emissions (IPCC, 2000) of which most is from deforestation, but this does not include the carbon removals from the sector as the methodologies behind the calculations are complex, uncertain, and not reported consistently across countries. Accounting for only anthropogenic emissions from LULUCF makes the sector the 2nd largest source of emissions globally, less than energy supply (power generation), but more than transportation, buildings, industries, and agriculture. It is estimated that the LULUCF sector removes 30% of global emissions, making it the sector net positive for emissions.
The developing country perspective
Globally, climate policy is heavily influenced by the LULUCF sector and was a key element in negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol. However, due to uncertainties in methodologies, initiatives that directly impact developing countries have not been fully exploited. Developing countries, in general, lack the resources to conduct complete satellite imagery of existing forest and other land uses for accurate accounting of emissions from the LULUCF sector.
An example of an LULUCF-related initiative under the Kyoto Protocol is the Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). In its simplest form, the UN-REDD effort seeks to place financial value on the conservation of forests; allowing for developing countries to receive financial assistance for the prevention of deforestation for development needs.
There have been two significant examples of developing countries seeking compensation for the avoidance of deforestation. In 2007, Ecuador found crude oil within its Yasuni National Park, an important forest reserve that is part of the Amazon rainforest. A national fund was set up and voluntary contributions were requested from the developed world for around half the potential return from oil revenues, amounting to USD 3.6 billion. After receiving only USD 200 million, the initiative was declared closed and the status of the park is still in limbo.
In 2012, Indonesia received USD 1 billion from Norway for a moratorium on clearing primary forests and peatland. While the programme’s results have been mixed, with deforestation still occurring in Indonesia, the bilateral deal is considered a successful example of an REDD-driven initiative.
The Malaysian perspective on LULUCF revolves around balancing forest protection against land use change needed for agriculture and economic development. More than 50% of land in Malaysia is still forested with around half of this in completely protected areas (UNEP, 2015).
The outcome of negotiations surrounding LULUCF may impact important economic activities for Malaysia, including agriculture, housing, and commercial land expansion.
- UNDP (2008): Key issues on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) with an emphasis on developing country perspectives,
- Environmental Science and Policy (2007): A synopsis of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) under the Kyoto Protocol and Marrakech Accords