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Implications of country-level decisions on the specification of crown cover in the definition of forests for land area eligible for afforestation and reforestation activities in the CDM.

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Within the Kyoto Protocol, countries have significant latitude to define a forest. The most important parameter affecting area designated as forest is the minimum crown density which can be set between 10 and 30 percent. The choice will have implications for the amount of land available in a country for afforestation and reforestation (A/R) activities within the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). In this paper, we used GIS analysis to look at four case studies from countries involved in the EU-funded ENCOFOR project: Bolivia, Ecuador, Uganda and Kenya. We also looked at the effects of other factors that would exclude land from eligibility for A/R projects. A low threshold of 10 percent crown cover resulted in exclusion of 70 to 90 percent of the land area of all countries except Kenya, which differed from the other countries by its large dryland areas. Much less area was excluded when higher thresholds were used. The spatial analyses showed not only the effects of the choice of the crown cover criterion, but also where the land was available for CDM activities within each country at different thresholds. This is the first time that the effect of the crown cover element of the Kyoto forest definition on land availability and distribution for CDM A/R activities has been quantified. While there are a number of reasons to choose different thresholds, this analysis suggests that countries that are considering using CDM finance for rural development might want to select the higher minimum threshold for crown cover in order to maximize their participation and flexibility.

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