A forested landscape, Mexico Photo credit: Marcela Olguin
Forests play an important role in the global carbon cycle, removing an estimated one third of the carbon emitted by fossil fuel combustion. Understanding the role of forests in the carbon cycle is becoming increasingly important as nations monitor, manage and report internationally on their forests.
To help quantify carbon stocks and stock changes, an increasing number of countries are applying a carbon budgeting model developed at Natural Resources Canada. Known as the Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Sector, or CBM-CFS3, the model helps countries track their forest carbon stocks and predict future changes.
The CBM-CFS3 is currently being tested by researchers from Australia, China, Korea, Germany, Italy, and the United States in small-scale or regional applications. “The model meets a niche scientific demand for comprehensive forest carbon accounting,” says Werner Kurz, a senior research scientist with NRCan’s Forest Carbon Accounting Team.
An old-growth boreal forest near Syktyvkar, Russia
Due to its comprehensive nature, the CBM-CFS3 has recently been applied at the national scale in Russia. Data generated have been used to inform Russia’s international climate change report submissions.
Applying the Model to Mexico’s Forests
Recently, Mexico has also begun to apply the model as part of a working partnership between Canada and Mexico.
“Mexico is interested in using the CBM-CFS3 to better understand their forests’ impact on climate change,” says Werner. “They want to find out how different forest management and land-use strategies would impact reductions in carbon emissions.”
As a first step towards the national application of the model, inventory data are being gathered across the country, including data on growth and yield curves (how the stands grow over time) and ecosystem carbon stocks for different forest types.
Researchers are also applying the model on a local scale in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. They are assessing the impacts of different deforestation and degradation scenarios on forest carbon emissions.
As well as benefiting Mexico, this work supports the United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD).
Carbon is removed from the atmosphere by growing forests and returned to the atmosphere by plant respiration, decomposition and fire
The CBM-CFS3 can be used to support ongoing monitoring of forest carbon stocks. This information is required for international climate change reporting under the Kyoto Protocol, the Montreal Process and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
At the same time, the model can also be used to produce projections of future carbon flows based on forest management practices, natural disturbances and land-use changes. These projections can be used in the design of forest management strategies that support climate change mitigation.
NRCan is assisting countries with the application of the CBM-CFS3 through bilateral partnerships and international training workshops on how to use the model effectively.
To learn more about the CBM-CFS3, view NRCan’s “Carbon budget model” Web page.
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