Land use change and forestry climate project regional baselines: a review

  • Jayant A. Sathaye
  • Kenneth Andrasko
Original Paper


Climate change programs have largely used the project-specific approach for estimating baseline emissions of climate mitigation projects. This approach is subjective, lacks transparency, can generate inconsistent baselines for similar projects, and is likely to have high transaction costs. The use of regional baselines, which partially addresses these issues, has been reported in the literature on forestry and agriculture projects, and in greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation program guidance for them (e.g., WRI/WBCSD GHG Project Protocol, USDOE’s 1605(b) registry, UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism). This paper provides an assessment of project-specific and regional baselines approaches for key baseline tasks, using project and program examples. The regional experience to date is then synthesized into generic steps that are referred to as Stratified Regional Baselines (SRB). Regional approaches generally, and SRB in particular explicitly acknowledge the heterogeneity of carbon density, land use change, and other key baseline driver variables across a landscape. SRB focuses on providing guidance on how to stratify lands into parcels with relatively homogeneous characteristics to estimate conservative baselines within a GHG assessment boundary, by applying systematic methods to determine the boundary and time period for input data.


GHG mitigation Project-specific Carbon sequestration Stratified regional baselines 



This work was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Atmospheric Programs through the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the authors herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or the Environmental Protection Agency. The authors would like to thank the following for detailed review comments and/or discussion of this material, in ways that enhanced the paper: Florence Daviet and Suzie Greenhalgh, World Resources Institute; Maurice LeFranc, US EPA; Bernhard Schlamadinger, Joanneum Research; and Sandra Brown, Winrock International.


  1. Alerich C, Klevgard L et al The forest inventory and analysis database: database description and users guide version 2.0. Scholar
  2. Andrasko K (1997) Forest management for greenhouse gas benefits: Resolving monitoring issues across project and national boundaries. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 2:117–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Antinori C, Sathaye J (2006) Assessing transaction costs of project-based greenhouse gas emissions trading. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory LBNL-57315Google Scholar
  4. Brown S, Calmon M et al (1999) Development of a deforestation and forest degradation trend model for the Guaraquecaba Climate Action Project. Winrock International Carbon Monitoring Program. Arlington, VA USA, p 14Google Scholar
  5. Brown S, Burnham M et al (2000a) Issues and challenges for forest-based carbon offset projects: a case study of Noel Kempff Climate Action Project in Bolivia. Mitig Adapt Strat Global Change 5:99–121Google Scholar
  6. Brown S, Masera O et al (2000b) Project-based activities. In: Watson R, Noble I, B et al (eds) Land use, land-use change, and forestry. Printed by Cambridge University Press for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeGoogle Scholar
  7. Busch C, Sathaye J et al (1999) Lessons for greenhouse gas accounting: a case study of Costa Rica’s protected areas project. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley CA. LBNL 42889Google Scholar
  8. Davidson E (1995) Spatial covariation of soil organic carbon, clay content, and drainage class at a regional scale. Landsc Ecol 10(6):349–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. de Jong B (2002) A landscape-based analysis of temporal and spatial variation of deforestation and carbon budgets: an approach for multi-project baselines. International symposium on forest carbon sequestration and monitoring, 13–15 November, 2002, Taipei, TaiwanGoogle Scholar
  10. de Jong B, Tipper R et al (1997) A framework for monitoring and evaluation of carbon mitigation by farm forestry projects: example of a demonstration project in chiapas, Mexico. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 2:231–246 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fearnside P (2001) The potential of Brazils forest sector for mitigating global warming under the kyoto protocol. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 6(3–4):355–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Figueres C (2006) Sectoral CDM: opening the CDM to the yet unrealized goal of sustainable development. Int J Sustain Dev Law Policy II(1) (Special Issue on Climate Change)Google Scholar
  13. Kaimovitz D, Angelsen A (1998) Economic models of deforestation: a review. CIFOR, IndonesiaGoogle Scholar
  14. MacDicken KG (1997) Project specific monitoring and verification: State of the art and challenges. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 2(2–3):191–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Moura-Costa PH, Yap SW et al (1996) Large scale enrichment planting with dipterocarps as an alternative for carbon offset-methods and preliminary results. In: Appanah S, Khoo C (eds) Proceedings of the 5th Round Table Conference on Dipterocarps. Chiang Mai, Thailand, November 1994. Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), Kepong, Thailand. pp 386–396Google Scholar
  16. Murtishaw S, Sathaye J et al (2005) Spatial boundaries and temporal periods for setting greenhouse gas performance standards. Energy Policy. LBNL-54844Google Scholar
  17. NACSI, n.d. Carbon online evaluator tool website. Scholar
  18. Parkinson S, Begg K et al (2001) Accounting for flexibility against uncertain baselines: lessons from case studies in Eastern European energy sector. Climate Policy 1:55–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Pinard M, Putz F (1997) Monitoring carbon sequestration benefits associated with reduced-impact logging project in Malaysia. Mitig Adapt Strat Global Change 2:278–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Programme for Belize (1997) Rio-Bravo carbon sequestration pilot project offsets attributable to project actions for project year (1996). Report of the US Initiative on Joint Implementation and the Government of Belize, Belize City, Belize, p 15Google Scholar
  21. Ravindranath N, Murthy I et al (in press) Carbon price driven mitigation potential of forestry sector in India according to GTAP and India AEZ land classification systems (this issue)Google Scholar
  22. Ravindranath NH, Murthy IK et al (in press) Methodological issues in forestry mitigation projects: a case study of Kolar district (this issue)Google Scholar
  23. Sommer A, Murray B, Andrasko K (2004) Project specific or performance standard baseline? Testing the alternatives for a forest carbon sequestration project. Prepared for proceedings of 3rd DOE Carbon sequestration Conference, May 3–6, 2004, Alexandria, Virginia, USA. Scholar
  24. Sudha P, Shubhashree D et al (in press) Regional baseline for the dominant agro-ecological zone of Karnataka, India (this issue)Google Scholar
  25. Sudha P, Ramprasad V et al (in press) Methodological issues in developing industry promoted farm forestry mitigation project (this issue)Google Scholar
  26. Tipper R, de Jong BH (1998) Quantification and regulation of carbon offsets from forestry: Comparison of alternative methodologies with special reference to Chiapas, Mexico. Commonw For Rev 77:219–228Google Scholar
  27. US DOE (2006) Enhancing the Department of Energy’s voluntary reporting of greenhouse gases (1605b) program. Scholar
  28. van Soest D (1995) Tropical rainforest degradation in Cameroon. Tilburg University, Department of Economics, The Netherlands. ProcessedGoogle Scholar
  29. Vine E, Sathaye J, Makundi W (2001) An overview of guidelines and issues for the monitoring, evaluation, reporting, verification, and certification of forestry projects for climate change mitigation. Glob Environ Change 11(3):203–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. World Bank (2000) Learning from the implementation of the Prototype Carbon Fund. World Bank, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  31. World Resources Institute (WRI) (2006) The land-use, land-use change and forestry guidance for project accounting. World Resources Insititute, November 2006 (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  32. World Resources Institute/World Business Council for Sustainable Development (2003) The greenhouse gas protocol: project quantification standard. Road Test Draft, September, p 143. Available via http://www.ghgprotocol.orgGoogle Scholar
  33. World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) (2005) The GHG Protocol for Project Accounting. World Resources Institute, Washington DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyCAUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Atmospheric Programs/CCDWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations