June 23, 2011
The 21st century has brought new challenges for forest management at a time when global climate change is becoming increasingly apparent. Additional to various goods and services being provided to human beings, forest ecosystems are a large store of terrestrial carbon and account for a major part of the carbon exchange between the atmosphere and the land surface. Depending on the management regime, forests can thus be either a sink, or a source of atmospheric carbon. Southeast Asia or ASEAN comprises 10 countries of different cultures and political background. Rapid economic development and fast-growing population in the region have raised much concern over the use of natural resources, especially forest resources. This study aims at finding the appropriate measures for sustainable use and management of tropical forests on a long-term basis. Between 1990 and 2000, about 2.3 million ha of forest were cleared every year and lost to other forms of land use. In terms of carbon emissions, a net amount of approximately 465 million t per year were released to the atmosphere over the same period, which amounts to 29% of the global net carbon release from deforestation worldwide.
This study provides an approach to analyzing the implications of alternative forest and land management options on forest carbon stocks. This is done in three steps: First, observed trends in land use are expressed in terms of a model in order to create a scenario for the period 1980–2050. Second, forest management practices and timber production rates are analyzed and three management scenarios are created: (1) continuing the current rate of exploitation, (2) management for long-term economic gains, and (3) climate-beneficial management. Third, the impact of the three scenarios on regional carbon storage is estimated on the basis of a carbon balance model. Comparing the additional rate of carbon sequestration of scenario (3) over scenario (2), and taking into account differing management costs, we also discuss a framework for industrialized countries to invest in carbon credits in the region in order to fulfil their commitments under present and future climate protection agreements.