Baselines for land-use change in the tropics: application to avoided deforestation projects

Brown, Sandra; Hall, Myrna; Andrasko, Ken; Ruiz, Fernando; Marzoli, Walter; Guerrero, Gabriela; Masera, Omar; Dushku, Aaron; DeJong, Ben; Cornell, Joseph
September 2007
Mitigation & Adaptation Strategies for Global Change;Sep2007, Vol. 12 Issue 6, p1001
Academic Journal
Although forest conservation activities, particularly in the tropics, offer significant potential for mitigating carbon (C) emissions, these types of activities have faced obstacles in the policy arena caused by the difficulty in determining key elements of the project cycle, particularly the baseline. A baseline for forest conservation has two main components: the projected land-use change and the corresponding carbon stocks in applicable pools in vegetation and soil, with land-use change being the most difficult to address analytically. In this paper we focus on developing and comparing three models, ranging from relatively simple extrapolations of past trends in land use based on simple drivers such as population growth to more complex extrapolations of past trends using spatially explicit models of land-use change driven by biophysical and socioeconomic factors. The three models used for making baseline projections of tropical deforestation at the regional scale are: the Forest Area Change (FAC) model, the Land Use and Carbon Sequestration (LUCS) model, and the Geographical Modeling (GEOMOD) model. The models were used to project deforestation in six tropical regions that featured different ecological and socioeconomic conditions, population dynamics, and uses of the land: (1) northern Belize; (2) Santa Cruz State, Bolivia; (3) Paraná State, Brazil; (4) Campeche, Mexico; (5) Chiapas, Mexico; and (6) Michoacán, Mexico.A comparison of all model outputs across all six regions shows that each model produced quite different deforestation baselines. In general, the simplest FAC model, applied at the national administrative-unit scale, projected the highest amount of forest loss (four out of six regions) and the LUCS model the least amount of loss (four out of five regions).


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