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Malcolm Sedgwick, Carbon Lead

Monitoring afforestation projects

What is monitoring and how is it used in afforestation projects?

Monitoring overview
  • Initial monitoring involves developing biomass monitoring sites and collecting baseline data (e.g. measuring existing trees/shrubs)
  • The number and location of biomass monitoring sites will be minimised using remote sensing technology, and developed by Arbonics
  • Landowners must monitor tree growth, timber production, fertiliser use and fire losses every five years

Why is monitoring important?

Data and its quality are central to all carbon projects, as carbon projects trade data between carbon credit buyers and carbon credit sellers. Carbon credit sellers use data to prove they have generated carbon benefits, while carbon credit buyers use project data to prove they have mitigated greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon projects must use robust monitoring systems, which can withstand the scrutiny of credit buyers and third-party auditors.

Sources and sinks

Carbon projects are designed as carbon sinks, that is they collect, remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon projects can also be a source of greenhouse gas emissions if they burn biomass (e.g. prescribed burning to prepare sites for planting), use fertilisers, or accidentally lose stored carbon (e.g. forest fire).

High-quality carbon projects monitor all major carbon sources and sinks, to ensure they aren’t selling carbon benefits while also generating carbon emissions. Forestry-based carbon projects normally monitor the following sources and sinks:

  • Above-ground woody biomass (sink)
  • Below-ground woody biomass (sink)
  • Soil organic carbon (sink and source)
  • Wood products (sink and source)
  • Biomass burnt (source)
  • Fertiliser use (source)

A carbon project's monitoring program involves an initial set-up stage, and then ongoing regular monitoring over the life of the carbon project.

Initial project monitoring

For a forestry-based carbon project, the initial monitoring stage involves developing biomass monitoring sites and collecting baseline data (e.g. measuring existing trees/shrubs). The number and location of biomass monitoring sites will be developed by Arbonics and depend on expected biomass growth patterns across the project area. Arbonics will minimise the number of physical biomass monitoring sites through careful analysis and effective use of remote sensing technology. Not all afforestation parcels will include physical monitoring sites.

Ongoing project monitoring

The ongoing monitoring demands of a forestry-based carbon project are similar to national forestry inventory programs required by all European countries. Landowners will be asked to physically measure tree diameter at all designated physical monitoring sites within the project area, at least every five years. Landowners will also be asked to keep annual records of fertiliser use, timber production and fire losses for each afforestation area.

Summary

Arbonics will work closely with all landowners to ensure all afforestation areas can generate high-quality carbon credits. Arbonics will design the monitoring program, provide access to monitoring technology, complete all remote sensing, complete biomass calculations, and model soil organic carbon over time. Landowners who are managing afforestation areas will measure tree growth, timber production, fertiliser use and fire losses every five years.

Arbonics is a tech-based carbon and ecosystem platform for forest-and landowners in Europe – bridging the analogue world of forestry with the world of tech to fight climate change. We partner with landowners to access new revenue streams by helping them quantify, monitor and sell the environmental benefits of sustainable land management.

Are you a landowner? Introduce yourself here and we will get in touch to discuss opportunities with your land.

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