Forest carbon accounting webinar showcased APFNet projects and exchanged experiences in carbon measurement methodologies


As the agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) sector represents 20-24% of net anthropogenic emissions, accounting for carbon stock and emissions in forests is deemed important in the global effort of combatting climate change. As such, APFNet launched an online meeting titled "Holding Forests Accountable - APFNet Forest Carbon Accounting Zoom Webinar" on December 8th, 2021, to provide a platform not only for APFNet’s project partners to share carbon-related project knowledge but also for experts and practitioners from relevant fields to exchange experiences on forest carbon measurement. More than 65 people attended the webinar.

So far APFNet has launched five projects to research carbon accounting methodology or measure forest carbon in different locations in China, the Greater-Mekong Subregion (GMS), and Southeast Asia. Five of the speakers from the webinar were representatives of these projects, and Dr Wang Guosheng from the Academy of Forestry and Grassland, Inventory and Planning of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, China provided the context of measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) and Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) under UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.

APFNet Project management division staff are holding the webinar
“MRV is a key pillar to enable the implementation of the convention and Paris Agreement”, said Dr Wang. In 2015 via the Paris Agreement, an enhanced transparency framework (ETF) was established for both action—for post-2020 climate change commitments, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—and others. Each economy will regularly submit national inventory reports on emissions and carbon removals, and materials to track the progress of its NDCs. Each economy will also provide information on climate impacts and adaptation measures; information on financial support, technology transfer, and capacity-building support provided needed and received. This universal MRV system applied to all parties ensures transparency and allow trust-building and confidence that each economy is contributing their share to the global effort.

Dr Wang emphasized that quantitative evaluation of the NDCs is challenged by the lack of sufficient data and comprehensive information on definitions, assumptions and methods applied by each economy. He encouraged China to improve the accuracy of its National Inventory Report (NIR) of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities by adopting more concise modelling and Tier 3 data (which is detailed modelling and/or inventory measurement system data at a greater resolution other than Tier 1, which are the default emission factors provided in the IPCC Guidelines or Tier 2, activity data defined by the economy for the most important land uses/activities) for estimation of carbon sink/emission on the project level and China Certified Emissions Reductions (CCER) in the carbon market.

Dr Haruni Krisnawati from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia presented on an APFNet project aiming to review the parameters contributing to tropical peat fire emissions estimates, as per IPCC guidelines. The project improves emission parameters by conducting field studies at project sites in central Kalimantan, Indonesia to identify differences in estimated and real emission among a range of peat forests burnt at different fire frequencies. The real data is then matched with new calculation measures to arrive at a more accurate estimate.

Specifically, the project team have found that rather than total combustion of all material during a single fire, as currently assumed and reported, actually recurrent peat fires create different amounts of deadwood and pyrogenic carbon emissions. Thus, their contributions to peat fire emissions each time are not properly accounted for. The findings from this project will provide novel data that will reduce uncertainties in the peat fire emissions estimates and potentially improve the IPCC methodology.

An APFNet project in Thailand also aims to improve the accuracy of carbon stock estimation in forests. Dr Khwanchai Duangsathaporn from Kasetsart University presented a new approach in this project to develop new national standing-tree carbon equations. By conducting a field forest inventory in Ngao Demonstration Forest in northern Thailand, the project team calculated the wood carbon content of each species in each forest type and then constructed a standing tree bole carbon equation for each forest type. However, the project team have decided to use one equation to represent all forest types since the coefficients of all equations are relatively close. This equation was used to derive the total carbon stock in Ngao Demonstration Forest.

Dr Duangsathaporn suggested that this methodology should be expanded to a national level by dividing the economy into five geographic regions and considering the forest types in each region. Once new national carbon equations are derived, Dr Duangsathaporn is looking forward to incorporating the new equations into the IPCC reporting process.

In addition to projects researching methodology to estimate forest carbon, the webinar also showcased APFNet projects which measure carbon on the ground in southern and northern China. Professor Jiang Chunqian from the Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry introduced a project accounting for forest carbon storage and sinks at the project sites in Zhejiang and Anhui in southern China. Professor Jiang has observed an increase in total carbon storage after restoration activities, such as weeding and enrichment planting, in degraded stony mountainous forests and Chinese fir forests.  
Professor Lei Xiangdong from the Institute of Forest Resource Information Techniques, Chinese Academy of Forestry presented a project quantifying forest carbon at Wangyedian Forest Farm, Inner Mongolia in northern China. Professor Lei’s team factored in forest type and forest age and established 186 plots for sampling. Their team not only collected data from trees, shrubs, herb and litter, but soil samples were also collected to calculate soil organic carbon and soil bulk density. At this stage, the project results were still preliminary, but Professor Lei is intending to calculate total forest carbon storage for the forest farm, analyse the relationship between carbon and stand factors, the potential carbon stock via a growth model, and develop a management plan for increasing the carbon sink.

The audience of the webinar showed great interest in the Lidar remote sensing technology introduced by Dr Pang Yong from the Institute of Resource Information Techniques.  Lidar is commonly used to determine ranges by projecting light to an object and measuring the time for light to return to the receiver. Lidar has been applied in the field of forestry sectors such as forest measurement, forest fire management, forest mapping, land classification and other practices by attaching a Lidar device on satellite, aeroplanes, backpacks, or vehicles. In this project, the goal was to use Lidar to estimate forest biomass and subsequently forest carbon stocks. Dr Pang’s team have found that biomass estimation using Lidar data is close to field-measured biomass. Dr Pang believed that forest biomass is estimated by Field-Airborne-Spaceborne (FAS) comprehensive observation, that is combining field measurements from forest inventory system, airborne LiDAR, and spaceborne remote sensing data for estimation purposes is very effective for the estimation of larger, regional areas.
Dr Pang Yong introducing the mechanisms of Lidar
Participants have all learned something from the webinar. One participant from the audience was planning to bring Lidar-obtained data into the curriculum of their university. A full report summarizing APFNet and its carbon-related projects will be produced and published on the APFNet official website. The original announcement, the recording of the webinar, and presentation slides can be accessed here:
Original announcement:

Speaker Title & Organization APFNet Project Talk Title Webinar
Anna Finke Division Director, Project Management Division, APFNet NA Opening remarks:
Introduction of APFNet and APFNet's vision on carbon
Dr Wang Guosheng Professor, Academy of Forestry and Grassland Inventory and Planning, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, China NA MRV rules related to forestry and land use under Paris Agreement and challenges in China Recording
Dr Haruni Krisnawati
Principal Researcher, Research Professor, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia; Senior Research Fellow, Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, the University of Melbourne, Australia Improving capacities towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from peat swamp forest fires in Indonesia  Improving capacities towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from peat swamp forest fires in Indonesia: forest carbon accounting and emission estimation from peatland fires Recording
Dr Jiang Chunqian Professor, Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry Demonstration on Sustainable Forest Management and Restoration in Hilly and Low Mountain Area of Southern China The Forest Carbon Stock in Demonstration Sites of APFNet Project, Southern China Recording
Dr. Khwanchai Duangsathaporn Head, Department of Forest Management, Kasetsart University Faculty of Forestry (KUFF) To Demonstrate the Development and Application of Standing-Tree Carbon Equations to Improve the Accuracy of Forest-Cover Carbon Stock Estimates in Thailand Developing standing-tree carbon equations to improve the accuracy of forest-cover carbon stock estimates in Thailand Recording
Dr Pang Yong Professor, Chinese Academy of Forestry Regional Forest Observations for Sustainable Forest Management Forest Aboveground Carbon Density Estimation Using Lidar Remote Sensing Technology
Dr Xiangdong Lei
Professor, Institute of Forest Resource Information Techniques, Chinese Academy of Forestry Study on forest carbon storage and carbon sink potential of Wangyedian Forest Farm Forest Inventory for Ecosystem Carbon Estimation at Forest Management Unit Level: A Case Study at Wangyedian Forest Farm Recording
All Attendees & Anna Finke NA   Q&A and Closing remarks Recording