chapter  2
14 Pages

Changes in the use and management of forests for abating carbon emissions: issues and challenges under the Kyoto Protocol

BySandra Brown, Ian R. Swingland, Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Ghillean T. Prance, Norman Myers

The global carbon cycle is recognized as one of the major biogeochemical cycles because of its role in regulating the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most important greenhouse gas (GHG), in the atmosphere. Forests play an important role in the global carbon cycle because they store large quantities of carbon in vegetation and soil, exchange carbon with the atmosphere through photosynthesis and respiration, are sources of atmospheric carbon when they are disturbed by human or natural causes (e.g. use of poor harvesting practices, cleared and burned for conversion to non-forest uses, wildfires, etc.), and become atmospheric carbon sinks (i.e. net transfer of CO2 from the atmosphere to the land) during land abandonment and regrowth after disturbance (Brown et al . 1996). Humans have the potential through changes in forest land use and management to alter the magnitude of forest-carbon stocks and the direction of forest-carbon fluxes, and thus alter their role in the carbon cycle.