The overall goal of the project is to support the Vietnamese government within this REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) development process. The project will be monitoring and displaying deforestation rates for two pilot communes in the Central Highlands. Satellite or aerial maps provide exact area measurements, but forest ecosystems are very divers and calculation of Carbon stocks varies among different forest types. Thus, the project will carry out forest inventories and based on these findings the Carbon stocks will be calculated through developing appropriate models (forest type + soil type + area gaining/reduction = Carbon Emission Certificates). Area changes can be recorded easily by using aerial or satellite images and the Carbon stocks updated.
GTZ (German Technical Cooperation- an IO) will provide training measures, collect forest inventory data, elaborate Carbon stock calculations and CartONG’s role will be to process all data for Google Earth and on a website for Google API. The datasets will be updated by the trained local staff of the province. Since it is always critical to ensure continuation after a six months project, projects were identified that will monitor the process after the grant period is over. Apart from that, the partners will refine the models which were elaborated under this project and contribute to a (inter)national dissemination of gained experiences.
The project, which is supported by Google.org through one of the Google GeoChallenge Grants, is embedded in the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) component of the GTZ programme.
One of the reasons for the continuation of unsustainable practices is the underestimation of the multi-functionality of forests. Most non-timber forest goods and services are not generating their potential financial value when managed sustainably because of lack of markets or other compensation mechanisms. One of the main challenges faced by many countries in stopping forest degradation and deforestation — and in enhancing the contribution of forests to development — is the need to increase the competitive-ness of SFM and generate more investment in and revenues from forests.
Forests play an important role in providing alternative sources of energy and mitigating climate change. The concept of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is yet another recognition of the forests’ role in climate-change mitigation. REDD, irrespective of timber quality or accessibility, increases the economic value of natural forested land and thus, could lead both public and private sectors to invest in areas previously considered not commercially viable. REDD makes an important contribution to SFM through evaluating the carbon stocks of a sustainably managed forest, thus increasing their financial value and decreasing the conversion into into agricultural lands.
Under the Climate Change Convention and Kyoto Protocol various financing instruments have been developed for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures that include projects on forest management, afforestation and deforestation. The evolving policy discussions within UNFCCC to establish a financing mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) have created high expectations for its role as a financing tool for SFM and forest conservation.
The project will include the following steps:
These preconditions, established forest management plans and a strong ownership of the communes due to land security, are favorable to start a REDD pilot. So far we can revert to data, which was collected to elaborate the forest management plans, but nevertheless areas need to be re-measured since encroachment of farmers in the forest area to plant agricultural crops still occurred in the past. This process is much slower than in other areas of the Đắk Nông province, but it underlines that the value of forest is still too low to compete with agricultural production.
We will apply a Carbon Budgeting based on the calculation of the Carbon content of related C-pools (soil, litter, above and belowground biomass). Needed data will be measured in the field and Carbon stock of the soil must be assessed. Carbon stocks of agricultural land like coffee plantations or cassava will be measured and calculated in the same way. Carbon stock differences between the scenarios will be converted in CO2 emission certificates. The last step is the elaboration of land use patterns depending on different price scenarios for CO2 emissions. Displayed patterns constitute the basis for payments to the local communities.
It is too early in the project to have results. We shall be able to submit preliminary results within the next 2-4 weeks.
Local staff is being trained in how to establish forest inventories, how to map and how to feed and update the resulting project web page.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE), Forestry Department (FD) and Forest Protection Department (FPD) as well as the University are informed and involved in the project.