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2.2 

Information Gathering

There are several basic information "building blocks" that are essential for completing a feasibility study, and they are outlined below. Project developers can begin to gather much of this information. After considering the basic criteria above, project developers may feel that they have a strong project, however, without the appropriate scientific documentation, a full feasibility analysis cannot be carried out.

Box 3 Information Needed for a Feasibility Study

  • Biological Description of Project Area - this should include a summary of flora, fauna and habitat types in the area that establish its conservation value. Additionally, forestry data is critical for establishing baselines for conducting carbon benefit analysis. Further, an assessment of natural risks is needed such as if the area if prone to fires, wind damage from hurricanes and the like; project areas that are subject to natural damage may be too risky to undertake because of potential loss of carbon benefits.

  • Land-Use Change Data - satellite imagery and maps are necessary for establishing the deforestation trend for the area. This will be used to calculate the "with-project" and without-project" scenarios that form the basis of carbon benefit calculations.

  • Land Tenure Information - Project developers must be able to determine who owns or controls the land proposed for project activities. Whether through fee-simple purchase or an agreement with current landowners, the host country's land ownership system must ensure control of the land throughout the life of the project. Without a means to ensure land control, the project is too risky to undertake.

  • Demographic Trends - A demographic sketch of the region where the project is located is very helpful in establishing threat and is also useful in creating "with-project" and "without-project" scenarios. Information on growth rates and descriptions of recent immigration or emigration in the project area is useful.

  • Socio-economic Context - This information should include current economic activities in the area and a description of these activities' impact on natural resources. Also, include trends that describe whether the region is prospering or in recession.

  • Budgetary Context - In-country project designers will be relied upon to provide input on the basic cost of doing business in the project region. Some critical budget line items include land prices, project staff salaries, and reforestation costs, which are calculated on a per hectare basis.

INFORMATION NEEDED TO DEVELOP CARBON OFFSET ESTIMATES

As noted, an effective feasibility study will require the assistance of consultant(s) or a project team with a diverse skill set, including technical expertise in estimating carbon offsets. If consultants conduct the feasibility study, their work must be supported by information provided by the project developer. This is particularly true in estimating preliminary carbon offsets. In all international projects, in order to estimate the carbon offsets, carbon stocks that would have been on the landscape without the project (without-project measures) are compared to carbon stocks that will be on the landscape with the project (with-project measures). Prior to project implementation these estimates are usually accomplished through desk studies that are based upon information found in published and unpublished literature and descriptions of project plans and activities. The project developer will need to provide consultants with descriptions of the project area as well as project plans and activities.

Essentially the project developer will need to define what the project does. Specifically, how would project interventions affect land cover relative to what would have happened without the project? For a typical project you need to provide clear descriptions of:

It is critical to provide a clear description of all land-cover types for sites targeted for specific interventions as well as descriptions of land-cover changes anticipated in both the with-project and without-project scenarios over the life of the project. The descriptions should be as detailed as possible but may, at a minimum, consist of simple land-cover classifications such as those available through vegetation maps.

For generating offset estimates, rates of land conversion, degradation, and restoration that would occur both with and without the project are as important as land-cover descriptions for ecosystem carbon estimates. In estimating land degradation trends, types and intensity of management that would affect land cover in the project area (e.g. fuel wood gathering, logging, swidden/slash-and-burn agriculture) are needed. Rates of 1) deforestation and 2) strategies and rates of reforestation are two of the most common parameters that must be known to estimate offsets. If the land cover with-project and the land cover without-project for a particular area is anticipated to be the same over the life of the project, the project has no effect on carbon and no offsets would be anticipated. Areas like these are not of particular concern to the carbon expert.

One of the best ways to organize the information is by using a spreadsheet with column headings that include current land cover, anticipated with-project land cover or reforestation trends, and anticipated without-project land cover or conversion trends. This should be accompanied by notes on the sources used to develop assumptions, and if practical, copies of articles or other information used in the assessment. Maps of the project area, with areas of specific project interventions outlined, are also extremely helpful.

Table 3, below provides a summary of the categories of information needed to develop offset estimates. Hypothetical data is included that might emerge from carbon offset estimates for a 30-year project, consisting of forest conservation and reforestation. In this hypothetical project area, agricultural conversion is the primary threat to forests. The area being protected includes various forest types and ages as well as natural shrub lands. If implemented, the reforestation component of the Project would take place on degraded areas that are no longer under agricultural production. Specifically, the offsets for this Project would come from:

Component A - Protection: Averting the conversion of forests and natural shrub lands to agricultural uses. In this component, the without-project land cover at the end of the project period would have been agricultural land. In contrast, the with-project land cover would be natural forests and shrubland.

Component B - Reforestation of degraded lands. In this component the without-project land cover at the end of the project period would have been agricultural crops, bare degraded lands, and some natural regeneration consisting of grass and small shrubs, while the with-project land cover would be restored forest.

Table 3 - Information to Develop Offset Estimates - Sample Data Inserted

Project Name:

 

[INSERT NAME]

       

Location:

 

[INSERT LOCATION]

       

Project Length:

 

[INSERT PROJECT DURATION]

       
             

Name of Project Site

Project Intervention

Land Area (ha)

Current Land Cover

Without-Project Scenario

With-Project Scenario

Notes

             

Site 1

Protection

5,400

mature tropical wet forest

1.2 % deforestation per year. Conversion to crops according to details provided in notes.

same as current land cover, no deforestation

Deforestation rates from [INSERT SOURCE]. Crop conversion percentages provided by [INSERT SOURCE]. Deforested areas are converted to particular crops according to the following proportions: rice = X%; potato = X%; yucca = X%; banana = X%; coffee = X%, etc.

Site 2

Protection

13,660

secondary tropical wet forest

1.2 % deforestation/yr. Same conversion assumptions as above. Areas not converted undergo natural regeneration.

no deforestation, natural regeneration

See notes for site 1.

Site 3

Protection

10,300

natural shrub lands

1.2 % deforestation/yr. Same conversion assumptions.

same as current land cover, no deforestation

See notes for site 1.

Site 4

Reforestation

1,300

grassy degraded land

same as current land cover

reforestation with native species - 162.5 ha/yr.

Planting will begin in the 3rd year of project implementation.

Site 5

Protection

66,080

mature tropical moist forest

1.2 % deforestation/yr. Same conversion assumptions.

same as current land cover, no deforestation

See notes for site 1.

Site 6

Protection

8,160

secondary tropical moist forest

1.2 % deforestation/yr. Same conversion assumptions. Areas not converted undergo natural regeneration.

natural regeneration, no deforestation

See notes for site 1.

Site 7

Reforestation

1,300

shrubby regeneration averaging 15 years old

same as current land cover

reforestation with native species - 162.5 ha/yr.

Planting will begin in the 3rd year of project implementation.

Carbon Offset Projects

Mobilizing Funding For Biodiversity Conservation: A User-Friendly Training Guide

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43 22

The following provides a closer look at the categories of information needed.

Descriptions of Current Land Cover

The carbon expert uses descriptions of all current land-cover types in offset-generating areas to help determine potential carbon sequestration. A common mistake for carbon project managers is to try to provide the expert with specific forest inventory data and fail to provide other, more important, information. It is usually not a good use of a project manager's time or finances to take field measurements or make separate estimates of biomass or carbon during the feasibility or proposal stage. If there is no specific inventory information for the project area, the carbon expert will estimate ecosystem carbon using information in the literature - this is one of the expert's primary skills. However, if forest inventory information is already available it will help the carbon expert to increase the accuracy of the offset measurements and should be provided. The carbon-offset estimates are sensitive to the data derived from the descriptions of areas targeted for protection, so care must be taken to provide the best information available.

Descriptions of With-Project Changes in Land Cover

Land-cover changes that result from project interventions will obviously factor into the carbon offset estimates. During the early stages of a project, the with-project scenario estimates over the life of the project are based upon project strategies and plans. As the project is implemented, these changes will be monitored on the ground, and projections into the future will be verified and updated.

Protection Component

When mature forests are protected there should be little change between present and with-project land cover over time: perhaps a relatively small increase. However, when secondary forests are protected, some natural regeneration should be anticipated.

Reforestation Component

To determine the amount of sequestration that would occur through forest restoration, a description of the areas targeted for reforestation, rates of planting, species planted and/or growth rates are needed. Often, species to be planted have not been determined in the feasibility study stage of a project. If this is the case, the carbon expert should use growth rates typical of the region.

Descriptions of Without-Project Changes in Land Cover

An assessment of what would have occurred without the project is most often called the baseline and is often the most challenging aspect of generating an offset estimate, particularly for projects that seek offsets through reductions in emissions (e.g. avoided deforestation projects). The without-project scenario has to be described both for areas targeted for protection, and those targeted for reforestation.

In finding deforestation or logging data for the project, try to find data that is very specific to the project area. Regional and national information may also be helpful (including forestry laws that dictate maximum harvest rates or minimum legal diameters that may be cut). An analysis of a time series of remotely sensed data (e.g. data from 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000) may be used in conjunction with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to evaluate deforestation rates

Potential sources of information for baseline projections include:

Population growth data may be used in conjunction with deforestation rates to determine whether there is a correlation. Declining populations might suggest that the deforestation rates would decline in the future, with or without the project, while population growth suggests that deforestation rates would increase. For a feasibility study, conservative estimates should always be used. A projected increase in deforestation rates, relative to historical trends, would be warranted only in extreme cases, or if available information showing the potential increase is extremely compelling.

It may be helpful, but is not absolutely necessary, to provide this type of population information to the carbon expert. It is of use to in verifying that population growth, and associated deforestation rates, are not decreasing in the project area. This deforestation rate, along with the total areas and land cover types targeted for conservation, are what the carbon expert needs. If you have information that indicates that particular land cover types are preferred for conversion, that information should also be provided. Descriptions of land-cover types that would replace the areas being protected if the project were not to take place (the without-project land cover) are also required.

This information can then be presented to the carbon expert in a variety of ways: oral communication through face-to-face meetings or telephone conferencing, piecemeal information through writing, one consolidated written document, or a combination of these. Check with the carbon expert to determine the expert's availability and time constraints, and this will help you to determine the best strategy. Ideally you will be able to provide the information in a comprehensive and consolidated written format and follow up submittal of the written information with a face-to-face oral description and discussion of the project and assumptions that went into your assessment of changes in land cover caused by the project. If you are working under a tight deadline, you should not necessarily wait until you get all of the information before you start submitting it to the carbon expert.



2.3 

Sustainable Development

A key aspect of the Clean Development Mechanism is its requirement to assist developing countries in "achieving sustainable development." In a project site, this often means working with local communities to promote local social and economic benefits. Working with local communities is also a necessary step in counteracting leakage. A project is not successful unless it has the support of the local community and adequately addresses local land-use demands. The objectives of the community development component is to foster good working relationships with the local community and other primary stakeholders, reduce leakage, improve sustainable forest management and build local ownership of the project.

Key questions that project staff should ask at each stage of project development include:

In order to address these issues, a stakeholder analysis should be undertaken in the project design phase. All stakeholder groups should be defined as either primary or secondary stakeholders. Primary stakeholders are those that are affected by the project and have a physical relation with the project area. Local communities and other groups that use forest resources in the project area are primary stakeholders. The next stage of the analysis should be to identify stakeholders' interests relevant to the project goals, and assess the likely impact of the project on these interests. Expected impacts can be classified simply into positive, negative, and uncertain.

In the hypothetical example set out in table 4, a forest-based carbon offset project seeks to replace destructive logging and agricultural practices with sustainable forest management and regeneration to sequester carbon. The project area contains indigenous and non-indigenous populations, while the surrounding buffer zone contains small-holder farmers. Logging companies have concessions within the project area, and are influential in municipal and state politics.

Table 4 Stakeholder Interests for a Typical Climate Action Project

     

Primary Stakeholders

Interests

Project Impact

Residents in project area

Maintenance of forest

Security of land tenure

Unlimited and exclusive use of forest resources

Improved incomes, health care and education

(+)

(?)

(-)

(?)

Villages around project area

Security of tenure

Access to forested land for swidden agriculture

Improved incomes, health care and education

(?)

(-)

(?)

Local indigenous community

Maintenance of forest

Security of land tenure

Unlimited and exclusive use of forest resources

Improved incomes, health care and education

(+)

(?)

(-)

(?)

Timber concessionaires

Income generation

Continued logging.

(?)

(-)

Downstream urban community

Watershed protection

Recreational access to forest

(+)

(+)

Local political elites

Maintenance of power in rural areas

(-)

     

Secondary Stakeholders

Interests

Project Impact

Forestry Department

To maintain forests

(+)

Municipal government

Increased municipal income

(?)

Local conservation NGO

Increased biodiversity conservation

(+)

National Indigenous Agency

Improved welfare and rights for indigenous peoples

(+)

State University

Involvement in research

Opportunities for students

(+)

Table 4 identifies stakeholder interests and evaluates the impact of project objectives upon them.

Interests with which project objectives will definitely conflict, are indicated by a negative sign (-), and interests that benefit project objectives are indicated by a positive sign (+). Stakeholder interests which may conflict with project objectives, but which the project maybe able to benefit through the design and implementation of specific activities are denoted by a question mark (?).

In the case shown above, the project will have a negative impact on all primary stakeholders who currently practice unsustainable forest management (e.g. continued logging by timber concessionaires) and it will challenge the power of local political lites. But it will have a beneficial impact on the interests of the downstream urban community, who currently use the forest sustainably for watershed protection and recreational value.

Once this understanding of stakeholders, their interests relevant to the project, and the impact of these interests are clear, strategies can be developed to compensate primary stakeholders adversely affected by the project. For example, specific project activities may be designed to improve the security of land tenure, incomes and health care of residents in and around the project area. This will compensate them for the negative impact of restricting the management of forest resources.

Participative research techniques can be used to gather further relevant information and strengthen working relations with the primary stakeholder groups with whom the project wishes to engage. Well structure research will seek to answer the key questions that the project team has about stakeholder livelihoods, interests and management of forest resources.

Box 4 Social and resource mapping for climate action projects.

Participants are divided into groups of men, women and children. Each group is given a large blank piece of paper and some colored pens. They are asked to draw a map of the locality including all the dwellings in the area. The maps will highlight features in the community and surrounding environment which are importance to each group. Each group is then given six sticky labels (three blue and three red) and asked to identify the three best places on the map, together with the three worst places.

The maps provide an understanding of how the different groups perceive their environment and what they consider to be its positive and negative features. The men's map may have a completely different dimension and features to the women's map. That of the children may be different still. A skilled facilitator can then stimulate a group analysis of the differences, which will explore different roles in resource management, relations with other villages, the needs and aspirations of the community. The exercise will also provide a detailed understanding of the local socio-economic context.

This exercise may be used as an introduction to a more sophisticated analysis of community resource management using transparencies overlaid on aerial photographs or printed maps.

Sustainable development is a requirement of the Kyoto Protocol and entails integrating three objectives - environmental, social and economic. It is important not to make the mistake of treating sustainable development as an environmental concern only - this can cause social or economic problems. The following list contains questions to consider when determining if project activities promote sustainable development at multiple levels.

Box 5 Balancing sustainability issues at different levels:

Project:

  • What are the impacts on local livelihoods and assets?
    • Will land tied up in forestry affect an area's food security?
    • How will forestry schemes affect the demand for labor at certain times?
    • Which types of investment could improve local skills and capacities?
    • Will management for increased carbon storage reduce income from timber?
  • How well are soil and water managed?
    • What scale and type of afforestation will best fit with the pattern of local farming?
    • Where might afforestation reduce water availability?
  • How are employees being treated?

Key question: Is the scheme using best locally appropriate practices?

National

  • What is the program's contribution to poverty reduction and employment?
  • Does it empower marginalized groups?
  • What are the effects on tax revenues and export earnings?
  • Does the program improve or transfer technology?

Key question: Is the program contributing to national visions and plans for sustainable development

Global

  • Does it improve equity in development between countries and issues concerning global public services?

Key question: Does the program reflect international norms and obligations on human rights, environmental and economic development?

Adapted from IIED: Laying the Foundations for Clean Development: Preparing the Land Use Sector

The Forest Stewardship Council (www.fscoax.org) maintains a set of principles and associated criteria for sustainable forest management covering social, environmental and economic factors.


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