NCEAS Product 25144

Griscom, Bronson W.; Ellis, Peter; Baccini, Alessandro; Marthinus, Delon; Evans, Jeffrey S.; Ruslandi, R. 2016. Synthesizing Global and Local Datasets to Estimate Jurisdictional Forest Carbon Fluxes in Berau, Indonesia. PLoS ONE. (Abstract) (Online version)


Forest conservation efforts are increasingly being implemented at the scale of sub-national jurisdictions in order to mitigate global climate change and provide other ecosystem services. We see an urgent need for robust estimates of historic forest carbon emissions at this scale, as the basis for credible measures of climate and other benefits achieved. Despite the arrival of a new generation of global datasets on forest area change and biomass, confusion remains about how to produce credible jurisdictional estimates of forest emissions. We demonstrate a method for estimating the relevant historic forest carbon fluxes within the Regency of Berau in eastern Borneo, Indonesia. Our method integrates best available global and local datasets, and includes a comprehensive analysis of uncertainty at the regency scale. We find that Berau generated 8.91 ± 1.99 million tonnes of net CO2 emissions per year during 2000–2010. Berau is an early frontier landscape where gross emissions are 12 times higher than gross sequestration. Yet most (85%) of Berau’s original forests are still standing. The majority of net emissions were due to conversion of native forests to unspecified agriculture (43% of total), oil palm (28%), and fiber plantations (9%). Most of the remainder was due to legal commercial selective logging (17%). Our overall uncertainty estimate offers an independent basis for assessing three other estimates for Berau. Two other estimates were above the upper end of our uncertainty range. We emphasize the importance of including an uncertainty range for all parameters of the emissions equation to generate a comprehensive uncertainty estimate–which has not been done before. We believe comprehensive estimates of carbon flux uncertainty are increasingly important as national and international institutions are challenged with comparing alternative estimates and identifying a credible range of historic emissions values.