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Sustaining Local Livelihoods through Carbon Sequestration Activities:
A search for practical and strategic approach
Daniel Murdiyarso

Below-ground carbon storage
Estimate of below-ground carbon content in peatlands is very important as most carbon in this ecosystem is stored as decomposed organic materials. It may be calculated using the following formula:
CC = A x B x C x D, where:
CC = carbon content (ton)
A = land area (m2)
B = bulk density of peat soil (g cm-3 or t m-3)
C = organic-carbon content (%)
D = peat thickness (m)

Tropical peat bulk density ranges between 0.1 and 0.3 g cm-3 depending on the maturity. The organic carbon content ranges between 40 and 50 percent. It is obvious that peat thickness is a very important parameter and in most pristine tropical peatlands it could be as deep as 15 m.
The method was demonstrated in various places in Indonesia. Below-ground carbon loss per unit area could be 2-5 times higher compared with the above-ground carbon loss.

Estimate of below-ground carbon content

However, it was not thoroughly tested if reduction of peat depth means emission of carbon. Methodological issues remain crucial for below-ground carbon estimates.

Measuring the impacts

In order to comply with the rules, the impacts of CDM project should be demonstrated and measured against the dual CDM objectives: (i) to assist developed countries to meet their emission reduction target and (ii) to assist developing countries to meet their sustainable development objectives. However, non-CDM projects or voluntary carbon projects bundled with community development activities could employ multicriteria analysis using criteria and indicators tailored for the specifi c purposes. There are a number of voluntary standards developed for multiple-benefi t land use projects. Many of project development standards have gone through extensive fi eld testing and review. However, voluntary project implementation and evaluation standard is still lacking.
Experiences in Mexico indicate that one should consider the project size and participants. Small-scale farmers may have diffi culty providing carbon benefi ts, but real impacts on livelihoods can be demonstrated relatively easily. Whereas largescale plantations in Riau, Indonesia could easily demonstrate carbon benefi ts but few impacts on livelihoods and poverty reduction.

Except in badly degraded ecosystems, the massive size of carbon stocks in peatlands offer excellent potential for environmental benefi ts with a range of development benefi ts, depending on the project design. These assets would be very attractive if the rules for deforestation avoidance were in place. Successes with crop protection from over-grazing and the use of controlled fi res have been demonstrated in Timor-Leste. However, it is hard to assess socio-economic benefits for the local community. Similar situations may be found in the Philippines, although the chance of improving local livelihoods supported by strong participation is higher. The Colombian experience is exceptional due to a strong legal status combined with community-wide participation. The carbon asset is secured and more attractive to investors.

Source: Proceedings of Workshop on Carbon Sequestration and Sustainable Livelihoods
Editors : Daniel Murdiyarso & Hety Herawati

Estimate of below-ground carbon content Estimate of below-ground carbon content
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