Tag Archives: South-east Asia

Forest people 'can gather carbon data'

Researchers say the people who live in some of the world’s most fragile forests can establish how much carbon they contain as accurately as scientists equipped with hi-tech measuring instruments.

LONDON, 29 October – You don’t have to be a sophisticated scientist equipped with all the latest gizmos in order to work out just how effective a particular forest is as a carbon sink, a critical way of soaking up greenhouse gases

The job, researchers believe, can be done just as accurately by the people who live in the forests, most of whom probably have neither modern instruments nor scientific training.

And the forests themselves will probably gain as well, because the local people will have more reason to feel they are buying into the trees’ conservation and so will have an incentive to protect them and work with conservationists from outside the forests.

The study, Community Monitoring for REDD+: International Promises and Field Realities, was published in a special issue of the journal Ecology and Society and was carried out by researchers at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and colleagues from Europe and south-east Asia.

It is on the agenda at the Oslo Redd Exchange, which aims to improve the workings of the UN’s Redd+ programme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Promise – and reality

The team studied some of south-east Asia’s most complex, carbon-rich forests: lowland forest in Indonesia, mountain rainforest in China and monsoon forest in Laos and Vietnam.

They report that they found that local communities – using simple tools like ropes and sticks – could produce forest carbon data on a par with the results obtained by professional foresters using high-tech devices.

The UN says its Redd+ projects must ensure local communities’ “full and effective participation.” But the study found that nearly half of official Redd+ projects, which depend on the accurate measurement of carbon stored in the forests, do not engage communities in this data gathering.

Finn Danielsen, the study’s lead author and senior ecologist at the Nordic Foundation for Environment and Development in Copenhagen, Denmark, says: “Saving the world’s forests requires us to close the massive gulf between international promises and realities on the ground.

“Our research shows that if more Redd+ projects were to include community monitoring, we would see a more just global effort to fight climate change that meaningfully incorporates insight from people who depend on forests for everything from their incomes to their food – and are eager to protect these precious natural resources as a result.”

Similarities ‘striking’

To establish whether forest dwellers could provide accurate monitoring of above-ground forest carbon stocks, the researchers trained community members in simple measuring techniques and sent them to 289 forest plots to measure the trees’ number, girth and biomass per hectare. They then compared the community measurements with those gathered by professional foresters using handheld computers and other elaborate aids.

The community monitoring was done with some basic equipment, apart from GPS devices: measuring tapes, ropes marked at intervals, paint and pencils.

The researchers say: “The results showed strikingly similar results between community members and professional foresters across countries and forest types.

“This corroborates a small but growing body of research suggesting that, when armed with the simplest of techniques and equipment, community members with limited education can accurately monitor forest biomass – previously thought to be the domain of highly-trained professionals.” They say the community data also met the standards of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Subekti Rahayu, an analyst at ICRAF who conducted fieldwork for the study, says: “We’re convinced that engaging communities is ultimately the most cost-effective approach. The small extra cost would be largely offset by its benefits to both local people – who would earn wages and gain training from these activities – and larger global efforts to address climate change.” – Climate News Network

Researchers say the people who live in some of the world’s most fragile forests can establish how much carbon they contain as accurately as scientists equipped with hi-tech measuring instruments.

LONDON, 29 October – You don’t have to be a sophisticated scientist equipped with all the latest gizmos in order to work out just how effective a particular forest is as a carbon sink, a critical way of soaking up greenhouse gases

The job, researchers believe, can be done just as accurately by the people who live in the forests, most of whom probably have neither modern instruments nor scientific training.

And the forests themselves will probably gain as well, because the local people will have more reason to feel they are buying into the trees’ conservation and so will have an incentive to protect them and work with conservationists from outside the forests.

The study, Community Monitoring for REDD+: International Promises and Field Realities, was published in a special issue of the journal Ecology and Society and was carried out by researchers at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and colleagues from Europe and south-east Asia.

It is on the agenda at the Oslo Redd Exchange, which aims to improve the workings of the UN’s Redd+ programme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Promise – and reality

The team studied some of south-east Asia’s most complex, carbon-rich forests: lowland forest in Indonesia, mountain rainforest in China and monsoon forest in Laos and Vietnam.

They report that they found that local communities – using simple tools like ropes and sticks – could produce forest carbon data on a par with the results obtained by professional foresters using high-tech devices.

The UN says its Redd+ projects must ensure local communities’ “full and effective participation.” But the study found that nearly half of official Redd+ projects, which depend on the accurate measurement of carbon stored in the forests, do not engage communities in this data gathering.

Finn Danielsen, the study’s lead author and senior ecologist at the Nordic Foundation for Environment and Development in Copenhagen, Denmark, says: “Saving the world’s forests requires us to close the massive gulf between international promises and realities on the ground.

“Our research shows that if more Redd+ projects were to include community monitoring, we would see a more just global effort to fight climate change that meaningfully incorporates insight from people who depend on forests for everything from their incomes to their food – and are eager to protect these precious natural resources as a result.”

Similarities ‘striking’

To establish whether forest dwellers could provide accurate monitoring of above-ground forest carbon stocks, the researchers trained community members in simple measuring techniques and sent them to 289 forest plots to measure the trees’ number, girth and biomass per hectare. They then compared the community measurements with those gathered by professional foresters using handheld computers and other elaborate aids.

The community monitoring was done with some basic equipment, apart from GPS devices: measuring tapes, ropes marked at intervals, paint and pencils.

The researchers say: “The results showed strikingly similar results between community members and professional foresters across countries and forest types.

“This corroborates a small but growing body of research suggesting that, when armed with the simplest of techniques and equipment, community members with limited education can accurately monitor forest biomass – previously thought to be the domain of highly-trained professionals.” They say the community data also met the standards of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Subekti Rahayu, an analyst at ICRAF who conducted fieldwork for the study, says: “We’re convinced that engaging communities is ultimately the most cost-effective approach. The small extra cost would be largely offset by its benefits to both local people – who would earn wages and gain training from these activities – and larger global efforts to address climate change.” – Climate News Network

Forest people ‘can gather carbon data’

Researchers say the people who live in some of the world’s most fragile forests can establish how much carbon they contain as accurately as scientists equipped with hi-tech measuring instruments. LONDON, 29 October – You don’t have to be a sophisticated scientist equipped with all the latest gizmos in order to work out just how effective a particular forest is as a carbon sink, a critical way of soaking up greenhouse gases The job, researchers believe, can be done just as accurately by the people who live in the forests, most of whom probably have neither modern instruments nor scientific training. And the forests themselves will probably gain as well, because the local people will have more reason to feel they are buying into the trees’ conservation and so will have an incentive to protect them and work with conservationists from outside the forests. The study, Community Monitoring for REDD+: International Promises and Field Realities, was published in a special issue of the journal Ecology and Society and was carried out by researchers at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and colleagues from Europe and south-east Asia. It is on the agenda at the Oslo Redd Exchange, which aims to improve the workings of the UN’s Redd+ programme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Promise – and reality

The team studied some of south-east Asia’s most complex, carbon-rich forests: lowland forest in Indonesia, mountain rainforest in China and monsoon forest in Laos and Vietnam. They report that they found that local communities – using simple tools like ropes and sticks – could produce forest carbon data on a par with the results obtained by professional foresters using high-tech devices. The UN says its Redd+ projects must ensure local communities’ “full and effective participation.” But the study found that nearly half of official Redd+ projects, which depend on the accurate measurement of carbon stored in the forests, do not engage communities in this data gathering. Finn Danielsen, the study’s lead author and senior ecologist at the Nordic Foundation for Environment and Development in Copenhagen, Denmark, says: “Saving the world’s forests requires us to close the massive gulf between international promises and realities on the ground. “Our research shows that if more Redd+ projects were to include community monitoring, we would see a more just global effort to fight climate change that meaningfully incorporates insight from people who depend on forests for everything from their incomes to their food – and are eager to protect these precious natural resources as a result.”

Similarities ‘striking’

To establish whether forest dwellers could provide accurate monitoring of above-ground forest carbon stocks, the researchers trained community members in simple measuring techniques and sent them to 289 forest plots to measure the trees’ number, girth and biomass per hectare. They then compared the community measurements with those gathered by professional foresters using handheld computers and other elaborate aids. The community monitoring was done with some basic equipment, apart from GPS devices: measuring tapes, ropes marked at intervals, paint and pencils. The researchers say: “The results showed strikingly similar results between community members and professional foresters across countries and forest types. “This corroborates a small but growing body of research suggesting that, when armed with the simplest of techniques and equipment, community members with limited education can accurately monitor forest biomass – previously thought to be the domain of highly-trained professionals.” They say the community data also met the standards of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Subekti Rahayu, an analyst at ICRAF who conducted fieldwork for the study, says: “We’re convinced that engaging communities is ultimately the most cost-effective approach. The small extra cost would be largely offset by its benefits to both local people – who would earn wages and gain training from these activities – and larger global efforts to address climate change.” – Climate News Network

Researchers say the people who live in some of the world’s most fragile forests can establish how much carbon they contain as accurately as scientists equipped with hi-tech measuring instruments. LONDON, 29 October – You don’t have to be a sophisticated scientist equipped with all the latest gizmos in order to work out just how effective a particular forest is as a carbon sink, a critical way of soaking up greenhouse gases The job, researchers believe, can be done just as accurately by the people who live in the forests, most of whom probably have neither modern instruments nor scientific training. And the forests themselves will probably gain as well, because the local people will have more reason to feel they are buying into the trees’ conservation and so will have an incentive to protect them and work with conservationists from outside the forests. The study, Community Monitoring for REDD+: International Promises and Field Realities, was published in a special issue of the journal Ecology and Society and was carried out by researchers at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and colleagues from Europe and south-east Asia. It is on the agenda at the Oslo Redd Exchange, which aims to improve the workings of the UN’s Redd+ programme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Promise – and reality

The team studied some of south-east Asia’s most complex, carbon-rich forests: lowland forest in Indonesia, mountain rainforest in China and monsoon forest in Laos and Vietnam. They report that they found that local communities – using simple tools like ropes and sticks – could produce forest carbon data on a par with the results obtained by professional foresters using high-tech devices. The UN says its Redd+ projects must ensure local communities’ “full and effective participation.” But the study found that nearly half of official Redd+ projects, which depend on the accurate measurement of carbon stored in the forests, do not engage communities in this data gathering. Finn Danielsen, the study’s lead author and senior ecologist at the Nordic Foundation for Environment and Development in Copenhagen, Denmark, says: “Saving the world’s forests requires us to close the massive gulf between international promises and realities on the ground. “Our research shows that if more Redd+ projects were to include community monitoring, we would see a more just global effort to fight climate change that meaningfully incorporates insight from people who depend on forests for everything from their incomes to their food – and are eager to protect these precious natural resources as a result.”

Similarities ‘striking’

To establish whether forest dwellers could provide accurate monitoring of above-ground forest carbon stocks, the researchers trained community members in simple measuring techniques and sent them to 289 forest plots to measure the trees’ number, girth and biomass per hectare. They then compared the community measurements with those gathered by professional foresters using handheld computers and other elaborate aids. The community monitoring was done with some basic equipment, apart from GPS devices: measuring tapes, ropes marked at intervals, paint and pencils. The researchers say: “The results showed strikingly similar results between community members and professional foresters across countries and forest types. “This corroborates a small but growing body of research suggesting that, when armed with the simplest of techniques and equipment, community members with limited education can accurately monitor forest biomass – previously thought to be the domain of highly-trained professionals.” They say the community data also met the standards of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Subekti Rahayu, an analyst at ICRAF who conducted fieldwork for the study, says: “We’re convinced that engaging communities is ultimately the most cost-effective approach. The small extra cost would be largely offset by its benefits to both local people – who would earn wages and gain training from these activities – and larger global efforts to address climate change.” – Climate News Network

Once in a century floods due every ten years

For immediate release Some parts of the world face frequent catastrophic floods by the end of this century while other regions could get less hazardous. LONDON, 10 June – Floods during the 21st century are expected to get worse. Really calamitous floods that, during the 20th century were considered once-in-a-century events could come round ever 10 years or so by the end of the 21st century, according to Japanese scientists. Yukiko Hirabayashi of the University of Tokyo and colleagues report in Nature Climate Change that they looked at the likely pattern of hazard in 29 of the world’s great river basins. They considered the risk in those places where greater numbers of people were settled, and used 11 global climate models to project flood dangers by the end of this century. They warn that the frequency of floods will increase in Southeast Asia, Peninsular India, eastern Africa and the northern half of the Andes of South America. More at stake Conditions in northern and eastern Europe – the scene of recent and current calamitous flooding – could get less hazardous, along with Anatolia, central Asia, North America and southern South America. The predictions, of course, come with the usual caveat: that the real exposure to flooding will depend to a great extent on what governments finally decide to do about greenhouse emissions, how much the world warms, what water management or flood control plans are put in place and on population growth in the regions at risk. But those lower latitude countries where both population and economic investment are on the increase will have more at stake in the decades to come, and should prepare for greater flood risks.  Floods in the last three decades have claimed 200,000 lives and caused around $400 billion in economic damage: they have also cost an estimated three billion people their homes, farms, businesses and livestock. Great river basins The most recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that overall, there was a “low confidence in projections of changes in fluvial floods. Confidence is low due to limited evidence and because the causes of regional changes are complex.” The Tokyo team took a detailed look at all the available data for the world’s great river basins, from the Yukon, the Mackenzie and the Columbia in the North American west to the Mississippi and the St Lawrence; the Rhine, the Danube and the Volga in Europe; the Ob, the Yenisei and the Amur in Siberia; the Orinoco, Parana and Amazon in South America; the Euphrates, the Indus, the Ganges, the Mekong and the Yangtze in Asia: the Niger, Nile, Zambezi and Congo in Africa and even the Murray in Australia. Their projections are just that: projections, to be tested by outcomes long after some of the authors have died. The researchers acknowledge the limitations in their methodology “The 20C 100-year flood event is projected to occur about every 10-50 years in many of these rivers in the 21C. Such a large change in return period is caused by a 10-30% increase in flood discharge,” they warn. “Major attention should be paid to low-latitude countries where flood frequency and population are both projected to increase.” – Climate News Network

For immediate release Some parts of the world face frequent catastrophic floods by the end of this century while other regions could get less hazardous. LONDON, 10 June – Floods during the 21st century are expected to get worse. Really calamitous floods that, during the 20th century were considered once-in-a-century events could come round ever 10 years or so by the end of the 21st century, according to Japanese scientists. Yukiko Hirabayashi of the University of Tokyo and colleagues report in Nature Climate Change that they looked at the likely pattern of hazard in 29 of the world’s great river basins. They considered the risk in those places where greater numbers of people were settled, and used 11 global climate models to project flood dangers by the end of this century. They warn that the frequency of floods will increase in Southeast Asia, Peninsular India, eastern Africa and the northern half of the Andes of South America. More at stake Conditions in northern and eastern Europe – the scene of recent and current calamitous flooding – could get less hazardous, along with Anatolia, central Asia, North America and southern South America. The predictions, of course, come with the usual caveat: that the real exposure to flooding will depend to a great extent on what governments finally decide to do about greenhouse emissions, how much the world warms, what water management or flood control plans are put in place and on population growth in the regions at risk. But those lower latitude countries where both population and economic investment are on the increase will have more at stake in the decades to come, and should prepare for greater flood risks.  Floods in the last three decades have claimed 200,000 lives and caused around $400 billion in economic damage: they have also cost an estimated three billion people their homes, farms, businesses and livestock. Great river basins The most recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that overall, there was a “low confidence in projections of changes in fluvial floods. Confidence is low due to limited evidence and because the causes of regional changes are complex.” The Tokyo team took a detailed look at all the available data for the world’s great river basins, from the Yukon, the Mackenzie and the Columbia in the North American west to the Mississippi and the St Lawrence; the Rhine, the Danube and the Volga in Europe; the Ob, the Yenisei and the Amur in Siberia; the Orinoco, Parana and Amazon in South America; the Euphrates, the Indus, the Ganges, the Mekong and the Yangtze in Asia: the Niger, Nile, Zambezi and Congo in Africa and even the Murray in Australia. Their projections are just that: projections, to be tested by outcomes long after some of the authors have died. The researchers acknowledge the limitations in their methodology “The 20C 100-year flood event is projected to occur about every 10-50 years in many of these rivers in the 21C. Such a large change in return period is caused by a 10-30% increase in flood discharge,” they warn. “Major attention should be paid to low-latitude countries where flood frequency and population are both projected to increase.” – Climate News Network

Tropical peatlands 'haemorrhage' fossil carbon

EMBARGOED until 1800 GMT on Wednesday 30 January
The quantities of carbon dioxide leaking out of deforested peatlands in south-east Asia constitute “a globally significant environmental disaster”, scientists say. 

LONDON, 30 January – Deforestation is causing carbon dioxide to leak from tropical forests far faster than anyone had suspected, says a team of scientists who have studied the process in south-east Asia.

The team, led by researchers from the UK’s Open University, say what is happening is a little-known problem which amounts to a disaster of worldwide significance. Their study is published in the journal Nature.

Tropical peatlands, with their high water tables and low decomposition rates, store huge quantities of organic carbon tens of metres thick. Most of these peatlands are in Indonesia, where the natural swamp forests are increasingly being felled for timber and to allow food to be grown.

Once felled, the forests are often drained and burnt.  A common crop is oil palm, used in food and particularly valuable as well for producing biofuels.

Dr Sam Moore, lead author of the study, says: “We measured carbon loss in channels draining intact and deforested peatlands, and found it is 50% higher from deforested swamps.

Ancient deposits vanishing

“Dissolved organic carbon released from intact swamps mainly comes from fresh plant material, but carbon from the deforested swamps is much older – centuries to millennia – and comes from deep within the peat column.”

Dr Vincent Gauci, senior lecturer in earth systems and ecosystem science at the Open University, and one of the study’s authors, said: “The destruction of the Asian peat swamps is a globally significant environmental disaster, but unlike deforestation of the Amazon, few people know that it is happening”.

“The scary part of what is happening is the age of the carbon that’s being lost”

Carbon lost from the drainage systems of deforested and drained peatlands is often not considered in ecosystem exchange carbon budgets, but the researchers found it increased the estimated total carbon lost from deforested peatlands by 22%

Changes in the water cycle seem to be the main driver of this increase.  Much of the rain that falls would normally leave the ecosystem through transpiration in vegetation, but deforestation forces it to leave through the peat, where it dissolves fossil carbon on its way.

Dr Gauci told the Climate News Network: “The scary part of what is happening is the age of the carbon that’s being lost.

“No-one had realised before now the real extent of the loss, because researchers had looked only at how much carbon was being lost from the land surface. Now we can see that fossil carbon is disappearing too.

Better off burning fossil fuels

“The pressure on south-east Asia for food, timber and oil palm is huge. Carbon loss following deforestation is also under way in Latin America, though it is not too severely affected yet.”

Dr Gauci said the team had been prompted to investigate what was happening in south-east Asia by studies of peatlands in high northern latitudes, including the UK, which revealed a similar process at work.

Long-term research in this area by a co-author of the report, Professor Sue Page, has shown that clearing and draining these ecosystems to grow biofuels is essentially pointless.

Dr Gauci said: “It’s really no better to grow oil palm to produce biofuels than to to use the fossil fuels they are intended to replace.

“It releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the fossil fuels would have done, and it destroys biodiversity, including the orang-utans.” – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 1800 GMT on Wednesday 30 January
The quantities of carbon dioxide leaking out of deforested peatlands in south-east Asia constitute “a globally significant environmental disaster”, scientists say. 

LONDON, 30 January – Deforestation is causing carbon dioxide to leak from tropical forests far faster than anyone had suspected, says a team of scientists who have studied the process in south-east Asia.

The team, led by researchers from the UK’s Open University, say what is happening is a little-known problem which amounts to a disaster of worldwide significance. Their study is published in the journal Nature.

Tropical peatlands, with their high water tables and low decomposition rates, store huge quantities of organic carbon tens of metres thick. Most of these peatlands are in Indonesia, where the natural swamp forests are increasingly being felled for timber and to allow food to be grown.

Once felled, the forests are often drained and burnt.  A common crop is oil palm, used in food and particularly valuable as well for producing biofuels.

Dr Sam Moore, lead author of the study, says: “We measured carbon loss in channels draining intact and deforested peatlands, and found it is 50% higher from deforested swamps.

Ancient deposits vanishing

“Dissolved organic carbon released from intact swamps mainly comes from fresh plant material, but carbon from the deforested swamps is much older – centuries to millennia – and comes from deep within the peat column.”

Dr Vincent Gauci, senior lecturer in earth systems and ecosystem science at the Open University, and one of the study’s authors, said: “The destruction of the Asian peat swamps is a globally significant environmental disaster, but unlike deforestation of the Amazon, few people know that it is happening”.

“The scary part of what is happening is the age of the carbon that’s being lost”

Carbon lost from the drainage systems of deforested and drained peatlands is often not considered in ecosystem exchange carbon budgets, but the researchers found it increased the estimated total carbon lost from deforested peatlands by 22%

Changes in the water cycle seem to be the main driver of this increase.  Much of the rain that falls would normally leave the ecosystem through transpiration in vegetation, but deforestation forces it to leave through the peat, where it dissolves fossil carbon on its way.

Dr Gauci told the Climate News Network: “The scary part of what is happening is the age of the carbon that’s being lost.

“No-one had realised before now the real extent of the loss, because researchers had looked only at how much carbon was being lost from the land surface. Now we can see that fossil carbon is disappearing too.

Better off burning fossil fuels

“The pressure on south-east Asia for food, timber and oil palm is huge. Carbon loss following deforestation is also under way in Latin America, though it is not too severely affected yet.”

Dr Gauci said the team had been prompted to investigate what was happening in south-east Asia by studies of peatlands in high northern latitudes, including the UK, which revealed a similar process at work.

Long-term research in this area by a co-author of the report, Professor Sue Page, has shown that clearing and draining these ecosystems to grow biofuels is essentially pointless.

Dr Gauci said: “It’s really no better to grow oil palm to produce biofuels than to to use the fossil fuels they are intended to replace.

“It releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the fossil fuels would have done, and it destroys biodiversity, including the orang-utans.” – Climate News Network