Agriculture, forestry and emissions trading: is there a role for the LTER network?

Neville Millar
Phil Robertson

The major contribution of land-based activities to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is widely recognized by the scientific community. The question of how and whether to include the agriculture and forestry sectors in GHG emission reduction projects suitable for carbon emissions trading in ‘cap–and–trade’ programs however, remains controversial. Examples of activities in these sectors which are and may be eligible for future GHG reduction offsets include, 1) establishing, increasing or restoring vegetative cover through the planting, sowing or human-assisted natural regeneration of woody vegetation to increase carbon stocks in woody biomass and soils, 2) agricultural land management comprising (A) improved cropland management; (B) improved grassland management and, (C) cropland and grassland land-use conversions, and 3) reducing the conversion of native or natural forests to non-forest land.

Some of the main concerns relating to the inclusion of these project activities into the carbon market are the establishment of reliable ‘baseline’ data and the requirement for additionality, i.e. the demonstration of real, measurable and long–term results in reducing or preventing emissions that would have occurred in the absence of the project activity. For example current requirements for project inclusion into the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) program typically stipulate that 5 – 10 years of verifiable management records be available to show historical practices.

Due to the unique nature of the LTER network, robust, long–term data sets from varying management practices in various relevant ecosystems are potentially available for use in advancing and implementing appropriate protocols and projects for inclusion in current and future carbon markets. The development of standards for mitigation and offsets, the verification of methodologies, and the accreditation of management practices, will however, likely require the collaboration of all stakeholders, including the agriculture, forestry, government and LTER research communities.

This proposed workshop therefore has three major aims:

• To raise awareness of the potential for LTER involvement in these project types.
• To identify and investigate previous, current and future experiments at LTER and associated sites and their data sets to assess their suitability for inclusion in protocol and project development.
• To explore potential ways that LTER investigators might become involved in future protocol and project development.

Session Info

Working Group Session 4

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Reusch Auditorium Sweet
Working Group Materials
Official Participants
Additional Participants: 
Sarah Hicks -
Kate Anderson -
Erika Pinto Quinteo-
Hongyan Luo -
Hannah Gusnell -
Jan Dick -
Lisa Crone -
Janet Hedtcke -