Application of the “Climafor” baseline to determine leakage: the case of Scolel Té

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Abstract

The acceptance of forestry-based project activities to mitigate greenhouse gases emissions has been subjected to a number of methodological questions to be answered, of which the most challenging are baseline establishment and identification of and measuring leakage. Here we pose hypotheses for and quantify leakage of the Scolel Té project in Chiapas, Mexico. In this project small-scale farmers are implementing forestry, agroforestry, and forest conservation activities, with carbon sequestration as one of the goals. The main leakage monitoring domain is defined as the area owned by the participating farmers or communities outside the area where the specific project activities take place. The null-hypothesis (no leakage) is that non-project land owned by the farmer or community will experience the same carbon stock changes as predicted by the regional baseline, specifically developed for the project. First we assessed the most likely causes and sources of leakage that may occur in the project. From this analysis, one type of leakage seems to be important, i.e., activity shifting. Second we estimated the leakage of a sample of participating farmers and communities. Actual land use was then compared with expected land use derived from the baseline. The Plan Vivo of each participant, complemented with readily available tools to identify the main sources and drivers of leakage are used to develop simple leakage assessment procedures, as demonstrated in this paper. Negative leakage was estimated to be negligible in this study. Incorporating these procedures already in the project planning stage will reduce the uncertainties related to the actual carbon mitigation potential of any forestry project.