Carbon Accounting Program Using Geospatial Technology to Meet Kyoto Reporting Requirements
The New Zealand Ministry for the Environment is implementing geographic information system (GIS) software from ESRI to analyze, measure, and report greenhouse gas emissions and land-use change. GIS will be used to comply with the reporting requirements of the Kyoto Protocol in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to Earth’s climate changes.
The Land Use and Carbon Analysis System (LUCAS) is built on a geospatial system developed by New Zealand-based ESRI business partner Explorer Graphics Ltd. (EGL). The system supports complex carbon sequestration calculations using validated and quantified land use and land-use change information.
Nations that are aligned with the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to take steps to reduce emission activities. The objective of the protocol is for industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels before 2012. In alliance with the agreement, New Zealand is required to report on greenhouse gas emissions and removals arising from land use, land-use change, and forestry activities. LUCAS will enable New Zealand to meet its Kyoto Protocol reporting requirements for carbon stock and carbon stock change including the annual National Inventory Report that can be used for reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
LUCAS manager Steve Botica said that the development of a geospatial solution was one of the key components of LUCAS, enabling the assessment of spatial data as part of the measurement and monitoring of the carbon stocks of New Zealand’s forests and soils. “In particular, we needed to analyze mapped land use at the key reference points for the first Kyoto commitment period—1990, 2008, and 2012.”
Built on ESRI’s ArcGIS software, LUCAS combines carbon assessment calculations with core geospatial change analysis and forest plot sampling to produce the carbon-per-hectare report for Kyoto land-use classes. David Pimblott, EGL’s managing director, said, “We have been working with ministry staff to develop various geospatial technology solutions. These will enable them to store and analyze satellite data and aerial photography to map changes in land use since 1990.”
Forests break down carbon dioxide and store, or sequester, the carbon during the forest’s natural processes of photosynthesis and respiration. This process is a natural means to counter increasing levels of carbon dioxide that affect climate change. ArcGIS supports scientific methods for calculating carbon sequestration by using validated and qualified land-use data. It then shows land-use change information from year to year.