Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

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Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) is defined by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat as "A greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use, land-use change and forestry activities."

LULUCF has impacts on the global carbon cycle
Carbon cycle
The carbon cycle is the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth...

 and as such these activities can add or remove carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 (or, more generally, carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

) from the atmosphere, contributing to climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. LULUCF has been the subject of two major reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

 (IPCC). Additionally, land use
Land use
Land use is the human use of land. Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as fields, pastures, and settlements. It has also been defined as "the arrangements, activities and inputs people undertake in a certain land cover...

 is of critical importance for biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...


Climatic impacts of land-use, land-use change and forestry

Land-use change can be a factor in CO2 atmospheric concentration, and is thus a contributor to climate change. IPCC
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

 estimates that land-use change (e.g. conversion of forest into agricultural land) contributes a net 1.6 ± 0.8 Gt carbon per year to the atmosphere. For comparison, the major source of CO2, namely emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production amount to 6.3 ± 0.6 Gt carbon per year.
This decision sets out the rules that govern how Kyoto Parties with emission reduction commitments (co-called Annex 1 Parties) account for changes in carbon stocks in land use, land-use change and forestry. It is mandatory for Annex 1 Parties to account for changes in carbons stocks resulting from deforestation, reforestation and afforestation (B Article 3.3) and voluntary to account for emissions from forest management, cropland management, grazing land management and revegetation (B. Article 3.4).

The rules governing the treatment of land use, land-use change and forestry for the second commitment period are currently being renegotiated as part of the Bali Action Plan under the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) .

The most recent options for rule changes under consideration are summarized in a "Non-Paper" the co-chairs of the contact group on LULUCF (as of June 12).

Land use and biodiversity

The extent, and type of land use directly affects wildlife
Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....

* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

 and thereby impacts local and global biodiversity. Human alteration of landscapes from natural vegetation (e.g. wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

) to any other use typically results in habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation
Habitat fragmentation
Habitat fragmentation as the name implies, describes the emergence of discontinuities in an organism's preferred environment , causing population fragmentation...

, all of which can have devastating effects on biodiversity. Land conversion is the single greatest cause of extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 of terrestrial
Terrestrial animal
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land , as compared with aquatic animals, which live predominantly or entirely in the water , or amphibians, which rely on a combination of aquatic and terrestrial habitats...

 species. An example of land conversion being a chief cause of the critically endangered status of a carnivore
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging...

 is the reduction in habitat for the African Wild Dog
African Wild Dog
Lycaon pictus is a large canid found only in Africa, especially in savannas and lightly wooded areas. It is variously called the African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf...

, Lycaon pictus.)

Of particular concern is deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

, where logging or burning are followed by the conversion of the land to agriculture or other land uses. Even if some forests are left standing, the resulting fragmented landscape
Forest fragmentation
Forest fragmentation is a form of habitat fragmentation, occurring when forests are cut down in a manner that leaves relatively small, isolated patches of forest known as forest fragments or forest remnants. The intervening matrix that separates the remaining woodland patches can be natural open...

typically fails to support many species that previously existed there.

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