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Environmental monitoring and assessment

The contribution of trees outside forests to national tree biomass and carbon stocks--a comparative study across three continents.


PMID 25514855

Abstract

In contrast to forest trees, trees outside forests (TOF) often are not included in the national monitoring of tree resources. Consequently, data about this particular resource is rare, and available information is typically fragmented across the different institutions and stakeholders that deal with one or more of the various TOF types. Thus, even if information is available, it is difficult to aggregate data into overall national statistics. However, the National Forest Monitoring and Assessment (NFMA) programme of FAO offers a unique possibility to study TOF resources because TOF are integrated by default into the NFMA inventory design. We have analysed NFMA data from 11 countries across three continents. For six countries, we found that more than 10% of the national above-ground tree biomass was actually accumulated outside forests. The highest value (73%) was observed for Bangladesh (total forest cover 8.1%, average biomass per hectare in forest 33.4 t ha(-1)) and the lowest (3%) was observed for Zambia (total forest cover 63.9%, average biomass per hectare in forest 32 t ha(-1)). Average TOF biomass stocks were estimated to be smaller than 10 t ha(-1). However, given the large extent of non-forest areas, these stocks sum up to considerable quantities in many countries. There are good reasons to overcome sectoral boundaries and to extend national forest monitoring programmes on a more systematic basis that includes TOF. Such an approach, for example, would generate a more complete picture of the national tree biomass. In the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation, international climate mitigation programmes (e.g. Clean Development Mechanism and Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Degradation) focus on forest trees without considering the impact of TOF, a consideration this study finds crucial if accurate measurements of national tree biomass and carbon pools are required.

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