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Lost benefits and carbon uptake by protection of Indian plantations

Hans Asbjørn Aaheim, Anton Orlov, Rajiv Kumar Chaturvedi, Priya Joshi, Anitha D. Sagadevan, N. H. Ravindranath

There is a range of problems in assessing how protection of a specific forest to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) affect global emissions of greenhouse gases. This paper shows how knowledge and information about the biophysical characteristics of forests can be combined with theories of forest management and economic behaviour to derive the impacts on global emissions of REDD+. A modelling experiment from India, where 10% of the forest plantations in eight different regions are protected, shows that the biophysical characteristics of forests are decisive for the global impacts on emissions. In regions with slow-growing forests, agents in the non-protected forests are able to increase their output significantly to fill the demand from the protected forests. This opportunity is strictly limited in regions with fast-growing forests. Therefore, prices increase far more in regions with fast-growing forests than in slow-growing forests. Over time, the markets for Indian forestry products contribute to reduce the resulting price differences across regions. When the carbon uptake from protected forests approaches zero, the leakage of emissions to other Indian forests is between 20 and 40%. Only a small part of this is international leakage. Combining different models also helps to identify knowledge gaps, and to distinguish gaps that potentially may be filled with data and new knowledge, and gaps due to different angling of modelling biophysical processes and modelling of economic behaviour.

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