Clark Labs Unveiling New Tools for REDD+

Clark Labs will be unveiling new tools for REDD+ at the Forest Day 4 event in Cancun that will enable users to measure carbon emissions with the BioCarbon Fund methodology as well as model the impacts of alternative economic policies with a new interface to the OSIRIS modeling tool. These new features will be publicly available within the Land Change Modeler application in the IDRISI GIS and Image Processing software in 2011.

REDD — Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation — is a climate change mitigation strategy, first proposed at the COP11 meeting in Montreal that offers developing countries incentives to reduce their forest carbon emissions. REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Development of a deforestation baseline is the first stage in the creation of a REDD proposal. The baseline is the estimated future rate and distribution of change that will occur if REDD is not implemented.

Land Change Modeler currently includes functionality for REDD+, specifically the tools for mapping land cover, modeling deforestation and future land change scenarios, and analyzing the impacts of land change on habitat and biodiversity. With support from Conservation International and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Land Change Modeler will be enhanced even more, with new features to automate the workflow for REDD+ project development further, guiding the user through the steps of baseline development and directly producing the tables and graphics required in reporting based on the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund methodology.

Land Change Modeler will now allow the user to define the boundaries of and analyze the land change of the reference, project and leakage areas of the proposed REDD+ activity. The user will also be able to generate estimated baseline carbon stock changes, including both CO2 and non-CO2 GHG emissions, and the possible associated leakage from displaced baseline activities. The new tool will greatly reduce the time and cost in the development of a deforestation baseline, which many regard as the most challenging technical hurdle in the development for many prospective REDD projects.

The interface to OSIRIS (Open Source Impacts of REDD+ Incentive Spreadsheet) will enable the user to estimate and map the impacts of alternative policies for REDD+ on deforestation, emission reductions, and revenue generation. OSIRIS is an economic model that analyzes how much countries would get paid by various REDD+ initiatives to leave their forests intact, and by how much carbon emissions would be reduced as a result. OSIRIS-Indonesia was developed by Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, and World Resources Institute, in collaboration with the National Council on Climate Change of Indonesia (DNPI) and Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry, and with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Jonah Busch, Climate and Forest Economist in the Science and Knowledge Division of Conservation International indicates “Including OSIRIS in IDRISI will allow local and national decision makers in forest countries to design policies and incentives for REDD+ that effectively mitigate climate change, efficiently target resources, and equitably distribute revenue.” The OSIRIS tool allows the user to combine jurisdiction responses to REDD+ policy scenarios with forest cover change, carbon, agricultural potential, access and land tenure, incorporating commodity price feedback, leakage, and national REDD+ incentives.

The Land Change Modeler software has already been utilized for REDD project submissions to VCS, the Voluntary Carbon Standard Program, for approval. Land Change Modeler has been adopted by Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society, among others, as their preferred modeling tool.

REDD+ holds much promise to protect forests, and many developing countries are beginning to develop proposals for site and national level projects, but the technical requirements for review and approval are strict and complex.

Forest Day 4 will take place on December 5th alongside COP16, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 16th Conference of the Parties, in Cancún, Mexico. Forest Day is one of the world’s leading global platforms for those interested in forests and climate change. The theme for Forest Day 4 is “Time to Act,” highlighting the urgent need to protect the world’s forests, conserve habitats and prevent biodiversity loss. Forest Day includes plenary sessions, learning events, posters and an exhibition. It is hosted by the Government of Mexico, through the National Forestry Commission, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and CIFOR. Clark Labs will be exhibiting at booth #22.

Last year, nearly 1,500 people attended Forest Day 3 in Copenhagen, including world leaders, three Nobel Prize winners, top scientists, donors, global and regional media, policymakers, leaders of indigenous communities, and notably, 250 climate negotiators.