Sustainable Forest Management Boosts Development of Carbon Markets

Guo Shuhua maintains Miyun County forests, as part of the UNDP-Macao Initiative for Carbon Sequestration through Sustainable Forest Management

The mountain scenery of Miyun County has changed over recent decades. Before the 1980s, mountains in Miyun were barren, with only a thin layer of soil covering the mountain rocks. It was difficult to spot trees; instead, there were only naturally-grown shrubs which were less effective in soil and water conservation.

In the 1980s, the government called on the general public to participate in mass tree planting and afforestation. Enthusiastic villagers responded and started planting pine and cypress trees over the mountains without realizing the challenges ahead; the over-crowded land was not fit for growing healthy trees. Without proper management, trees were poorly nourished and did not serve their ecological functions.

Testing a sustainable method that could help increase the forest’s ecological functions, in 2013 UNDP launched the UNDP-Macao Initiative for Carbon Sequestration through Sustainable Forest Management Project. The US $1 million project had support from the Macao Special Administrative Region and Beijing Forestry Carbon Administration (BFCA).

Highlights

  • Three guidelines and regulations regarding forestry maintenance, carbon sequestration calculation and management were developed to guide the general public and private sectors to better engage in forestry management and carbon sequestration activities.
  • The Management Regulations of Carbon Trading in Beijing (Trial), was officially issued by the municipal government in 2014 as a guideline clarifying roles, procedures and responsibilities for the parties engaged in carbon trading, and in turn helped in the development of a carbon trading market in Beijing.

Initially, a land of 160 ha in Sichuangyu Village was chosen as the project demo site to test and optimize the forestry management methods. Guo Shuhua, a local villager who used to depend on sheep herding for daily sustenance, was recruited by the forest management team and received maintenance training from forestry experts.

“It’s a daily job now,” said Guo, “it includes cutting old tree branches and shredding them so they can be used as fertilizers, transplanting the over-dense trees to provide them enough space to grow, maintaining the road to the mountain… I also learned to water the trees twice every month.”

To improve land and forest functions, the forest management team also started the tree-relocating process. Mr. Zhang Feng, the Project Manager, explained how moving the weak trees out of the land will leave enough space for healthy ones to grow. In addition, the team planted pines and cypress among the shrubs so that “their stronger roots will keep water from flowing, thus preventing soil erosion and contamination of water in the Miyun reservoir.”

Knowledge from the field, combined with theoretical guidance from forestry experts, was used to produce the Technical Guidelines on Increasing Carbon Sequestration in Major Types of Forests of Beijing. These guidelines highlighted recent forest transformations and developments in Beijing, promoting methods such as carbon sequestration which in turn mitigate climate change.

Carbon sequestration is a process whereby forests capture and store CO2 from the air, reducing greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere. Serving as a carbon pool, the forest ecosystem stores more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem and accumulates organic carbon compounds for a long period of time.

The government of China has realized the importance of forestry carbon trading as part of the carbon trading system and selected 7 carbon trading pilot provinces and cities, including Beijing, to pilot carbon emission trading programs. However, despite the fact that China’s carbon sequestration projects are booming, there are few methodologies regarding carbon trading management.

To fill the existing gap, the three-year initiative also aims at increasing the forest’s capacity in mitigating climate change through establishing forest management pilot demo areas and developing national methodologies for forestry carbon sequestration projects.

In total, three guidelines have been established to promote the development of carbon trading market. They provide guidance on measuring, reporting and verifying the amount of carbon sequestrated by the forests as well as facilitate forest carbon trading in the market.

To better help Beijing find a sustainable carbon trading model, this project also developed Management Regulations of Carbon Trading in Beijing (Trial). The policy regulation was officially issued in 2014 by the municipal government as a guideline clarifying roles, procedures and responsibilities for the parties engaged in carbon trading, and which in turn helped promote the development of carbon trading market in Beijing. Both the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Committee (DRC) and Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry, worked closely on this policy.

Zhang said, “While this project is focusing on the larger picture that is promoting the carbon trading market in Beijing and helping mitigate climate change, in the end, we see visible improvements in the villagers’ livelihoods.” For Guo, the UNDP-Macao initiative has meant enhanced capacity in forest management, increased income, trees with better quality, as well as the construction of a new road, all boosting his livelihood.

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