22 November 2012

Cameroon: Counting Carbon - Measuring Carbon Stocks in Logging Concessions in Cameroon

Deep inside a logging concession in southern Cameroon, scientists from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are measuring the carbon content of a huge tree, selectively felled by a timber company.

They're hoping to bolster scientific evidence that shows sustainable timber production in forests logged by private companies and local communities could increase carbon stocks - thus reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

When logging is conducted selectively and sustainably, research has shown it can actually help to protect forests from deforestation and conversion into other types of land use, like agriculture.

And sustainably managed forest concessions could also help to store carbon - with huge impacts for schemes that aim to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation like REDD+ - but this has not yet been proven.

The FORAFAMA project aims to find out.

The three year project, in collaboration with the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM), is analysing the impacts of sustainable timber production in forest concession areas and comparing them to other types of land management; such as protected areas, community forests, livestock production, and unmanaged exploited forest.

"We are evaluating the carbon stock in the trees that have been removed by the company, so we can have an idea of the carbon stocks in the forests that have been exploited for timber," says CIFOR scientist Denis Sonwa.

"Then we do an assessment of the carbon stock in a nearby area that has not been logged."

"And at the same time you can also collect data on the damage to the forest caused by a tree falling."

He says this kind of research is essential if REDD+ is to be implemented properly.

"While agriculture is one of the main drivers of deforestation, logging contributes to the degradation of the forest. It's not only removing selected trees, but you also have to open a road - it all has an impact on the carbon stock in that forest."

"So we need to gather all this kind of information if we really want to plan to reduce emissions due to degradation in an area."

The FORAFAMA project is funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) and forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. The project partners are the Office National de Forêts International (ONFI), Terre Environnement Aménagement (TEREA) and Forêt Ressources Management (FRM).

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