Need of sound terrestrial carbon accounting!

Today was my graduation day of the 145 Hours certificate course on terrestrial carbon accounting program, jointly offered by University of California and WWF, US.  24 highly talented professionals from 20 countries were receiving their certificates from the register of the university and John O Niles, Course Director.

There were also few non-carbon professionals, who attended the graduation program and out of curiosity asked a few graduate about the course. There were lot of question, why this course, why it is important and how could this help the world? Interestingly, Lou Leonard, Vice President for Climate Change, WWF US, answered these questions while delivering the key note address of the graduation day.

On importance and relevance of the course, the answer was quite straightforward: we need better accounting (which is correct, complete, accurate, comparable and consistent) of forest emission, resulting from deforestation and forest degradation, through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging, fires etc.. In the current context, world does not have better accounting principles as well as competent people to do this accounting is pathetically poor. Therefore, we need a new breed of professional army, who can do better accounting and can save the forest!

The expectation is that these new breed of experts can work closely with governments, international development agencies, policy makers, UNFCCC and IPCC systems and above all with the investors and private sector. Perhaps, this could help us to address the global deforestation and forest degradation problem[1].


[1] According to the FAO (2005), deforestation, mainly conversion of forests to agricultural land, continues at an alarming rate of approximately 13 million hectares per year (for the period 1990–2005).  Deforestation results in immediate release of the carbon originally stored in the trees as CO2emissions (with small amounts of CO and CH4), particularly if the trees are burned and the slower release of emissions from the decay of organic matter.  The IPCC WGIII (2007) estimated emissions from deforestation in the 1990s to be at 5.8 GtCO2/yr.  The IPCC also notes that reducing and/or preventing deforestation is the mitigation option with the largest and most immediate carbon stock impact in the short term per hectare and per year globally as the release of carbon as emissions into the atmosphere is prevented. 

 Keshav C Das, University of California, San Deigo


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