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Open Access Research

Forest carbon stocks and fluxes in physiographic zones of India

Mehraj A Sheikh1, Munesh Kumar1*, Rainer W Bussman2 and NP Todaria1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, HNB Garhwal University (A Central University), Srinagar Garhwal, Uttarakhand, India

2 William L. Brown Centre, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA

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Carbon Balance and Management 2011, 6:15  doi:10.1186/1750-0680-6-15

Published: 25 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Reducing carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is of central importance to combat climate change. Foremost among the challenges is quantifying nation's carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation, which requires information on forest carbon storage. Here we estimated carbon storage in India's forest biomass for the years 2003, 2005 and 2007 and the net flux caused by deforestation and degradation, between two assessment periods i.e., Assessment Period first (ASP I), 2003-2005 and Assessment Period second (ASP II), 2005-2007.

Results

The total estimated carbon stock in India's forest biomass varied from 3325 to 3161 Mt during the years 2003 to 2007 respectively. There was a net flux of 372 Mt of CO2 in ASP I and 288 Mt of CO2 in ASP II, with an annual emission of 186 and 114 Mt of CO2 respectively. The carbon stock in India's forest biomass decreased continuously from 2003 onwards, despite slight increase in forest cover. The rate of carbon loss from the forest biomass in ASP II has dropped by 38.27% compared to ASP I.

Conclusion

With the Copenhagen Accord, India along with other BASIC countries China, Brazil and South Africa is voluntarily going to cut emissions. India will voluntary reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 20-25% by 2020 in comparison to 2005 level, activities like REDD+ can provide a relatively cost-effective way of offsetting emissions, either by increasing the removals of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by afforestation programmes, managing forests, or by reducing emissions through deforestation and degradation.