This video, which was launched at the Paris climate conference, can now be downloaded from YouTube at
A short version (3 minutes) is also available at:
Your thoughts and comments are welcome!
domingo, 13 de diciembre de 2015
lunes, 30 de noviembre de 2015
At present Mexico has a baseline (REL) for deforestation but not for degradation or for forest enhancements; so cannot claim performance-related rewards for these elements of REDD+
Mexico has proposed a national Reference Emission Level (REL) to the UNFCCC and has developed an Initiative for Reduced Emissions, with finance from FCPF. However the REL includes only emissions from deforestation and forest fires. This is mainly because there is insufficient historical data on changing carbon stocks within forests to estimate trends in degradation and forest enhancement. On a parallel track, there is an opening for activities that promote carbon removals through forest enhancement. These can be developed by forest owners, including communities, as individual projects, and could be financed through sale of credits in national and international voluntary carbon markets, based on local monitoring of increasing stocks as a result of local management interventions.
Reduced degradation however remains out of the picture in terms of finance for the time being, even though it is possibly the greatest contributor to forest emissions. The difficulty is primarily related to lack of historical data, which is a problem worldwide, and the challenge is how to develop robust degradation baselines either at the local or the national level.
This message is the fourth of 8 key messages from the WOTROMEX programme. The case study area is the Ayuquila Basin in western Jalisco, which is a REDD+ Early Action Area under the Mexican national strategy for REDD+. WOTROMEX is supported by the Netherlands Science for Global Development Programme (NWO-WOTRO) and has been carried out by CIGA-UNAM together with the University of Twente, the Netherlands
domingo, 29 de noviembre de 2015
The shifting cultivation cycle in the study area has been reducing from 10 years to five or six years over the last 10 to 15 years. Contrary to popular opinion, this has not led to increased emissions because the driving force behind the change is not population increase (i.e. not pressure on the land) but a combination of public policy (subsidies which inadvertently encourage farmers to circulate their land more quickly) and the fact that clearing fallows requires much more labour if they are left from more than five years.
With a downward relative trend in maize prices over the last decade, and given that labour is the constraining factor in traditional agriculture, farmers nowadays prefer short cycles (cutting mature fallow is very labour intensive). Since in this area there has not been an increase in numbers of farmers engaged in shifting cultivation, this shortening of fallows appears to have been accompanied by an increase in areas abandoned by agriculture, and these areas are increasing their carbon stocks. Biomass emissions per ton of maize produced in a shifting cultivation system are around 1.27 t C compared to 0.59 t C in permanent agriculture, but this does not take into account the much higher carbon inputs in permanent agriculture in the form of energy and agrochemicals.
This message is the fifth of 8 key messages from the WOTROMEX programme. The case study area is the Ayuquila Basin in western Jalisco, which is a REDD+ Early Action Area under the Mexican national strategy for REDD+. WOTROMEX is supported by the Netherlands Science for Global Development Programme (NWO-WOTRO) and has been carried out by CIGA-UNAM together with the University of Twente, the Netherlands
viernes, 27 de noviembre de 2015
Gross degradation in the tropical dry forests of Mexico forests results in more emissions than deforestation
Tropical dry forests (TDF) are much more densely populated than humid forests in Mexico (as in much of the rest of the world) and local communities use them intensively, causing extensive degradation. As a result, the average above ground carbon stock levels of TDF in Mexico are currently around 14.5 t C/ha (compared to an intact level of 40 to 60 t C/ha). There could be opportunities under REDD+ for reducing degradation emissions and increasing carbon sequestration in TDF, but these would need to involve local communities and be based on a good understanding of the underlying processes.
One third of the sampling plots of TDF in the national forest inventory showed losses of carbon stock between 2004−7 and 2009−13, resulting in gross emissions from degradation of 22Gg CO2 per year. This is considerably more than the emissions due to deforestation (around 3Gg CO2 per year.) On the other hand, two thirds of the sampling plots in TDF showed increases in carbon stock over the period, resulting in gross removals due to forest enhancement of around 40 GgCO2per year. The enhancements outweighed the emissions, with average standing stock in TDF increasing at a rate of 0.3 tC/ha/year between the periods 2004−7 and 2009−13, indicating that on average stocks are recovering, probably as a result of abandonment of agriculture and out-migration from rural areas. This indicates that gains and losses may be related through cyclical processes such as shifting cultivation or shifting pasture use. Interventions undertaken under REDD+ need to be based on a good understanding of these processes.
This message is the third of 8 key messages from the WOTROMEX programme. The case study area is the Ayuquila Basin in western Jalisco, which is a REDD+ Early Action Area under the Mexican national strategy for REDD+. WOTROMEX is supported by the Netherlands Science for Global Development Programme (NWO-WOTRO) and has been carried out by CIGA-UNAM together with the University of Twente, the Netherlands
This video will be shown at our presentation in the Holland Pavilion in Paris on December 4th. A short preview can be found at: https://youtu.be/rCJPgdd_vWQ
jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2015
Well-enforced command and control mechanisms and greater inter-sectoral coherence, not direct payments, may be the best solutions in the long run to reducing deforestation
Although it is possible to establish that some geographical areas are more at threat from deforestation than others, it is very difficult to identify exactly who is going to deforest in a given period of time. This means that payments for ´not deforesting´ would have to be given to far more forest owners than would, in reality, have deforested. Given also the relatively high opportunity costs of deforestation, this would result in low cost efficiency. Moreover, any such payments would likely result in leakage, as demand for pasture or agricultural land would simply shift to other locations.
Although PES may be part of the solution under REDD+, it does not address the causes of deforestation. Given the relatively high opportunity costs of deforestation, well-enforced command and control mechanisms may be a long run solution to reducing it. Dealing with the lack of coherence between agricultural policies (which often promote clearance) and environmental policies (which aim to reduce deforestation) at the local level and at the national and regional level would be a major step forward, but sectoral autonomy is a political reality and reaching agreement between institutions may be a challenge.
This message is the second of 8 key messages from the WOTROMEX programme. The case study area is the Ayuquila Basin in western Jalisco, which is a REDD+ Early Action Area under the Mexican national strategy for REDD+. WOTROMEX is supported by the Netherlands Science for Global Development Programme (NWO-WOTRO) and has been carried out by CIGA-UNAM together with the University of Twente, the Netherlands
miércoles, 25 de noviembre de 2015
There have been several studies of the opportunity costs of deforestation in the context of REDD+, for example in preparation for the Stern Report (Greig Gran 2008, http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G02489.pdf) and for the World Bank (Chomitz, 2007 http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2006/10/19/000112742_20061019150049/additional/ixviiiPRRALFMweb.pdf) but very little is known about the opportunity costs of degradation. In InfoBrief 6 we present some estimates of the opportunity costs of degradation for the case of shifting cultivation in western Mexico. Not only are these costs high, they also vary greatly according to farming style. This introduces a social dimension which has not been present in studies of opportunity costs earlier. For InfoBrief 6 please see the side menu.
martes, 24 de noviembre de 2015
Between 2007 and 2011, average loss of area of TDF in Mexico was about 0.33% per year, compared to 0.2% per year for all forest types.
The primary cause of the loss of TDF forest in the study area in Jalisco was conversion to improved grass lands (seeded pastures) and scrublands (unseeded grazing areas). A much smaller proportion was converted to agriculture (shifting or permanent). Recuperation was mainly from scrubland. The largest pool of carbon in the TDF in the study area is in the soil (including both soil organic carbon and mineral carbon). In both absolute and relative terms there is more soil carbon per hectare in areas under shifting cultivation and under fallow following shifting cultivation, than in old growth forests. Soil carbon forms between 64% of the total carbon in old growth forests and 88% in the fallow areas. However, the soil carbon stocks in areas which have been opened for permanent agriculture are less than half those under shifting cultivation.
This message is one of 8 key messages from the WOTROMEX programme. The case study area is the Ayuquila Basin in western Jalisco, which is a REDD+ Early Action Area under the Mexican national strategy for REDD+. WOTROMEX is supported by the Netherlands Science for Global Development Programme (NWO-WOTRO) and has been carried out by CIGA-UNAM together with the University of Twente, the Netherlands
martes, 17 de noviembre de 2015
InfoBrief 3 introduced the importance of degradation in forest carbon emissions in Mexico, particularly in the case of tropical dry forest. In InfoBrief 5 (see side menu) we address the institutional framework that is developing in Mexico as regards finance and incentives for REDD+ activities, and highlight why inclusion of degradation is so difficult.
A national baseline has been set, but it includes only emissions from deforestation and forest fires. Under the national REDD+ strategy, activities coordinated from the public sector will use existing incentives and public programs to reduce emissions from these sources.
On a parallel track, activities promoting carbon removals and enhancements can be developed within existing voluntary carbon markets.
Reduced degradation however remains as the largely forgotten orphan child of REDD+. This is due to lack of historical data, which is a problem worldwide. One option for targeting degradation would be to allow the development of such projects in the carbon markets and to develop and accredit a methodology to create credible baselines at the level of individual forest properties.
lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2015
Shifting cultivation is considered to be an important cause of degradation and carbon emissions in tropical dry forests. Under REDD+, two sets of solutions have been proposed:
(1) switching to permanent cultivation (sedentarization and intensification of production, to allow ´sparing´ of some forest) and
(2) lengthening of the fallow cycles, to allow more time for recuperation of stocks.
In InfoBrief 4, which can be downloaded from the side menu, we calculate the carbon emissions that would result from production of one tonne of maize in shifting cultivation and compare this to emissions in a permanent cultivation system. We find that emissions from loss of biomass under shifting cultivation are higher than in permanent agriculture, but this does not take into account the much higher inputs of carbon in the form of agro-chemicals and energy in permanent agriculture.
We then calculate the impacts of shortening and lengthening the fallow cycle. We find that contrary to common perceptions, in many cases shortening of the cycles increases standing carbon stocks across the affected landscape and reduces emissions.
Tropical dry forest is the natural vegetation of
much of western Mexico
The lower lying, level areas are mostly already
deforested for permanent agriculture
while the lower slopes are commonly used for
shifting cultivation and temporary pastures,
resulting in degradation.
There is rapid regrowth of secondary forest following
but cattle are often allowed to graze freely on
these slopes, reducing the capacity of
the forest to regenerate.
miércoles, 28 de octubre de 2015
The drafts for the Paris agreement and the decisions relating to it, as drawn up in Bonn last week, are full of square brackets, that is, text which is not yet agreed upon. REDD+ is included (Article 3bis), but an alternative, non-results based mechanism (´Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism´, JMA) is also on the table. There remains a vast amount of negotiating to do in Paris before global agreement is reached and REDD+, in whatever form, can be brought under an umbrella agreement which tackles climate change comprehensively, inclusively and effectively.
In the hope and expectation that there will be a successful outcome in Paris, we are initiating this blog to share the results of research work on REDD+ that has been carried out by CIGA, the Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, at its Morelia campus. We deal mostly with nitty-gritty practicalities that are involved in getting successful national REDD+ programmes off the ground.
In the coming weeks we will be posting on this site a series of InfoBriefs prepared for presentation at CoP21 in Paris. These highlight some of the practical problems and solutions related to implementing national REDD+ programmes. In addition we are co-hosting a side event at the CoP, together with the Global Canopy Programme, CCBA and University of Twente, on community monitoring for REDD, and arranging a meeting on the potential of Tropical Dry Forests under REDD+ (please see announcements to the right of this blog). You are welcome, if you are going to be at CoP21 in Paris.
InfoBrief 3 can be downloaded immediately. It deals with the challenge of estimating emissions from forest degradation, for the particular case of Tropical Dry Forests (TDF). In general, TDF has a higher population density than rainforest, and it is used quite intensively in the livelihood strategies of the local people. While deforestation may certainly be taking place in patches, we argue that the greater problem is degradation, which is occurring more or less all over. In the case of Mexico, degradation of TDF is mainly the result of cattle grazing in forests, and to a lesser extent as a result of shifting cultivation. There is no doubt of the importance of tackling this source of emissions, but the first challenge is how to measure it.
Over the next couple of weeks we will raise other issues, such as the impacts of shifting cultivation on emissions and its opportunity costs. We hope this will be of interest of others and urge you to respond.