New guidelines on greenhouse gases and wetlands

Photo: K. Evans (CIFOR)

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has helped to produce a supplement to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2006 guidelines on wetlands. The supplement describes how to estimate and report the amount of greenhouse gases that wetlands, and certain types of managed land, emit and remove from the atmosphere.

CIFOR developed the guidelines after analysing the findings of recent research and working with the Indonesia Soils Research Institute (ISRI) to assess the impact of converting peat swamp forests to oil palm plantations. Scientists rigorously measured greenhouse gas emissions and carbon capture at several wetland sites in Sumatra and Borneo. The research generated valuable data on the soil processes that determine the variability of greenhouse gas emissions and will ultimately have a bearing on emissions policies and strategies.

“Every country that has wetlands will have to use the Supplement — which is pretty much every country in the world. However, countries will use the guidelines differently depending on how important emissions from wetlands are to their inventory. These guidelines will be of particular use to the 50 or so countries across the tropics that have peatlands and that have significant land-use activities in peatlands.” Louis Verchot, Research Director, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

The new methodology will be mandatory for national greenhouse gas accounting and will therefore have a significant impact on greenhouse gas inventories, which in turn underpin international climate negotiations.