Belachew Gizachew

Research Scientist

(+47) 902 48 909
belachew.gizachew@nibio.no

Place
Ås H8

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås

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Abstract

Protected Areas (PAs) in Tanzania had been established originally for the goal of habitat, landscape and biodiversity conservation. However, human activities such as agricultural expansion and wood harvesting pose challenges to the conservation objectives. We monitored a decade of deforestation within 708 PAs and their unprotected buffer areas, analyzed deforestation by PA management regimes, and assessed connectivity among PAs. Data came from a Landsat based wall-to-wall forest to non-forest change map for the period 2002–2013, developed for the definition of Tanzania’s National Forest Reference Emissions Level (FREL). Deforestation data were extracted in a series of concentric bands that allow pairwise comparison and correlation analysis between the inside of PAs and the external buffer areas. Half of the PAs exhibit either no deforestation or significantly less deforestation than the unprotected buffer areas. A small proportion (10%; n = 71) are responsible for more than 90% of the total deforestation; but these few PAs represent more than 75% of the total area under protection. While about half of the PAs are connected to one or more other PAs, the remaining half, most of which are Forest Reserves, are isolated. Furthermore, deforestation inside isolated PAs is significantly correlated with deforestation in the unprotected buffer areas, suggesting pressure from land use outside PAs. Management regimes varied in reducing deforestation inside PA territories, but differences in protection status within a management regime are also large. Deforestation as percentages of land area and forested areas of PAs was largest for Forest Reserves and Game Controlled areas, while most National Parks, Nature Reserves and Forest Plantations generally retained large proportions of their forest cover. Areas of immediate management concern include the few PAs with a disproportionately large contribution to the total deforestation, and the sizeable number of PAs being isolated. Future protection should account for landscapes outside protected areas, engage local communities and establish new PAs or corridors such as village-managed forest areas.

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Abstract

Deforestation and forest degradation (D&D) in the tropics have continued unabated and are posing serious threats to forests and the livelihoods of those who depend on forests and forest resources. Smallholder farmers are often implicated in scientific literature and policy documents as important agents of D&D. However, there is scanty information on why smallholders exploit forests and what the key drivers are. We employed behavioral sciences approaches that capture contextual factors, attitudinal factors, and routine practices that shape decisions by smallholder farmers. Data was collected using household surveys and focus group discussions in two case study forests—Menagesha Suba Forest in Ethiopia and Maasai Mau Forest in Kenya. Our findings indicate that factors that forced farmers to engage in D&D were largely contextual, i.e., sociodemographic, production factors constraint, as well as policies and governance issues with some influences of routine practices such as wood extraction for fuelwood and construction. Those factors can be broadly aggregated as necessity-driven, market-driven, and governance-driven. In the forests studied, D&D are largely due to necessity needs and governance challenges. Though most factors are intrinsic to smallholders’ context, the extent and impact on D&D were largely aggravated by factors outside the forest landscape. Therefore, policy efforts to reduce D&D should carefully scrutinize the context, the factors, and the associated enablers to reduce forest losses under varying socioeconomic, biophysical, and resource governance conditions.

Abstract

Uganda designated 16% of its land as Protected Area (PA). The original goal was natural resources, habitat and biodiversity conservation. However, PAs also offer great potential for carbon conservation in the context of climate change mitigation. Drawing on a wall-to-wall map of forest carbon change for the entire Uganda, that was developed using two Digital Elevation Model (DEM) datasets for the period 2000–2012, we (1) quantified forest carbon gain and loss within 713 PAs and their external buffer zones, (2) tested variations in forest carbon change among management categories, and (3) evaluated the effectiveness of PAs and the prevalence of local leakage in terms of forest carbon. The net annual forest carbon gain in PAs of Uganda was 0.22 ± 1.36 t/ha, but a significant proportion (63%) of the PAs exhibited a net carbon loss. Further, carbon gain and loss varied significantly among management categories. About 37% of the PAs were “effective”, i.e., gained or at least maintained forest carbon during the period. Nevertheless, carbon losses in the external buffer zones of those effective PAs significantly contrast with carbon gains inside of the PA boundaries, providing evidence of leakage and thus, isolation. The combined carbon losses inside the boundaries of a large number of PAs, together with leakage in external buffer zones suggest that PAs, regardless of the management categories, are threatened by deforestation and forest degradation. If Uganda will have to benefit from carbon conservation from its large number of PAs through climate change mitigation mechanisms such as REDD+, there is an urgent need to look into some of the current PA management approaches, and design protection strategies that account for the surrounding landscapes and communities outside of the PAs.

Abstract

Monitoring changes in forest height, biomass and carbon stock is important for understanding the drivers of forest change, clarifying the geography and magnitude of the fluxes of the global carbon budget and for providing input data to REDD+. The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of covering these monitoring needs using InSAR DEM changes over time and associated estimates of forest biomass change and corresponding net CO2 emissions. A wall-to-wall map of net forest change for Uganda with its tropical forests was derived from two Digital Elevation Model (DEM) datasets, namely the SRTM acquired in 2000 and TanDEM-X acquired around 2012 based on Interferometric SAR (InSAR) and based on the height of the phase center. Errors in the form of bias, as well as parallel lines and belts having a certain height shift in the SRTM DEM were removed, and the penetration difference between X- and C-band SAR into the forest canopy was corrected. On average, we estimated X-band InSAR height to decrease by 7 cm during the period 2000–2012, corresponding to an estimated annual CO2 emission of 5 Mt for the entirety of Uganda. The uncertainty of this estimate given as a 95% confidence interval was 2.9–7.1 Mt. The presented method has a number of issues that require further research, including the particular SRTM biases and artifact errors; the penetration difference between the X- and C-band; the final height adjustment; and the validity of a linear conversion from InSAR height change to AGB change. However, the results corresponded well to other datasets on forest change and AGB stocks, concerning both their geographical variation and their aggregated values.

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Abstract

REDD+, a climate change mitigation mechanism that values carbon in tropical forests, is expected to provide Africa with a range of environmental and socio-economic benefits. Drawing on a vast array of literature and personal experiences, this review analyzed particular features and challenges that REDD+ implementation has faced on the continent. The distinct contexts and major challenges regarding governance, finance and technical capacities are discussed, and mechanisms to fill these gaps are suggested. Radical land tenure reform and a perfect safeguard mechanism that transfers forest land and carbon to the communities are unlikely. REDD+ should rather look for systems that respect local institutional arrangements, and allow forest-based communities to participate in decision-making and benefit sharing, particularly benefits from emerging REDD+. Finances for REDD+ infrastructure and the results-based payment are in short supply. While negotiating for potential external sources in the short term, Africa should generate domestic financial resources and look for additional payments for ecosystem services. Africa should also negotiate for forest monitoring capacity building, while strengthening local community forest monitoring. This review contributes to an improved understanding of the contexts and challenges to consider in the capacity and policy development for REDD+ implementation.

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Abstract

A climate change mitigation mechanism for emissions reduction from reduced deforestation and forest degradation, plus forest conservation, sustainable management of forest, and enhancement of carbon stocks (REDD +), has received an international political support in the climate change negotiations. The mechanism will require, among others, an unprecedented technical capacity for monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon emissions from the forest sector. A functional monitoring, reporting and verification requires inventories of forest area, carbon stock and changes, both for the construction of forest reference emissions level and compiling the report on the actual emissions, which are essentially lacking in developing countries, particularly in Africa. The purpose of this essay is to contribute to a better understanding of the state and prospects of forest monitoring and reporting in the context of REDD+ in Africa. We argue that monitoring and reporting capacities in Africa fall short of the stringent requirements of the methodological guidance for monitoring, reporting and verification for REDD+, and this may weaken the prospects for successfully implementing REDD+ in the continent. We presented the challenges and prospects in the national forest inventory, remote sensing and reporting infrastructures. A North–South, South–South collaboration as well as governments own investments in monitoring, reporting and verification system could help Africa leapfrog in monitoring and reporting. These could be delivered through negotiations for the transfer of technology,technical capacities, and experiences that exist among developed countries that traditionally compile forest carbon reports in the context of the Kyoto protocol.

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Abstract

Background: A functional forest carbon measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) system to support climate change mitigation policies, such as REDD+, requires estimates of forest biomass carbon, as an input to estimate emissions. A combination of field inventory and remote sensing is expected to provide those data. By linking Landsat 8 and forest inventory data, we (1) developed linear mixed effects models for total living biomass (TLB) estimation as a function of spectral variables, (2) developed a 30 m resolution map of the total living carbon (TLC), and (3) estimated the total TLB stock of the study area. Inventory data consisted of tree measurements from 500 plots in 63 clusters in a 15,700 km2 study area, in miombo woodlands of Tanzania. The Landsat 8 data comprised two climate data record images covering the inventory area. Results: We found a linear relationship between TLB and Landsat 8 derived spectral variables, and there was no clear evidence of spectral data saturation at higher biomass values. The root-mean-square error of the values predicted by the linear model linking the TLB and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is equal to 44 t/ha (49 % of the mean value). The estimated TLB for the study area was 140 Mt, with a mean TLB density of 81 t/ha, and a 95 % confidence interval of 74–88 t/ha. We mapped the distribution of TLC of the study area using the TLB model, where TLC was estimated at 47 % of TLB. Conclusion: The low biomass in the miombo woodlands, and the absence of a spectral data saturation problem suggested that Landsat 8 derived NDVI is suitable auxiliary information for carbon monitoring in the context of REDD+, for low-biomass, open-canopy woodlands.

Abstract

Miljødirektoratet utarbeidet i 2014 et kunnskapsgrunnlag for hvordan vi kan omstille Norge til et lavutslippssamfunn (Miljødirektoratet 2014). I rapporten ble en rekke tiltak i skog beskrevet. Denne rapporten er en del av neste fase av dette arbeidet, som er å utdype analysen av mulige tiltak og virkemidler. Her beskriver vi, på oppdrag fra Miljødirektoratet, et utvalg klimatiltak i skog. Det er på ingen måte noen uttømmende oversikt over klimatiltak, men dekker et utvalg som det var ønske om å belyse nærmere. Disse er belyst nærmere med hovedvekt på karbonopptak og –lagring. Betydning for andre økosystemtjenester, som for eksempel biodiversitet og friluftsliv, er ikke belyst. Hovedkonklusjonene fra dette arbeidet kan kort oppsummeres slik: Fra 1990 og frem til 2012 har et bruttoareal på 1,4 mill. daa blitt avskoget (NIR 2014). Basert på data fra Landsskogtakseringen ser vi at den viktigste årsaken er nedbygging av skogareal til ulike formål (73 % av arealet), etterfulgt av omdisponering til beite (16 %). Om lag 29 % av skogen som avvirkes, hogges før hogstmodenhetsalder. Av dette arealet utgjør hogstklasse IV 25 %, mens hogstklasse III eller yngre utgjør 4 %. Skog definert som ”yngre skog” etter forslag til revidert PEFC skogstandard utgjør 9 %. Generelt benyttes relativt skånsomme metoder for markberedning i Norge i dag, og disse er vurdert til sannsynligvis å ha liten eller ingen effekt på karbonmengder i jorda over tid og over det totale areal. Tettere planting gir høyere volumproduksjon tidlig i bestandets liv. I følge resultatkontrollen i 2013 hadde 29 % av det totale foryngelsesarealet et plantetall under anbefalt nivå i bærekraftforskriften. Framskrivningene av skogbestokningen viser at en fortsettelse av dagens praksis på årlig foryngelsesareal fra 2015 og frem til 2100 akkumulert gir 83,5 millioner tonn CO2 lavere opptak enn om arealet hadde vært plantet med anbefalt tetthet. Høyere plantetetthet gir også økt mulighet for å ta ut virke gjennom tynning. Vi mener det er potensial for økt tynningsaktivitet, uten at dette vil redusere produksjon (opptak) på lenger sikt. Tynning kan øke potensialet for mer bruk av GROT (heltretynning). Ved tynning og gjødsling kan andelen sagtømmer i det hogstmodne bestandet øke, og samtidig kan tynning være ønskelig for å lage stabile bestand som kan overholdes utover normal hogstmodenhetsalder. Uttak av hogstrester (GROT) gir råstoff til bioenergi, som kan brukes til å erstatte fossile brensler. Forutsatt høstet på en bærekraftig måte, kan uttaket av GROT sannsynligvis økes uten redusert fremtidig produksjon (opptak). En lavskjerm med bjørk over granforyngelse vil, dersom den skjøttes riktig, gi en høyere total volumproduksjon på arealet over ett omløp sammenlignet med et renbestand med gran.

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Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR)-Ethiopia


The FLR project (2017-2020) has a goal of restoring highly degraded forest landscapes, in vast highlands in north western Ethiopia, into productive agricultural and forest landscapes. The project will adopt a landscape-approach to forest restoration, which will look at the target areas from a multifunctional landscape perspective, combining natural resource management with environmental and social well-being.

Active Updated: 02.06.2020
End: dec 2020
Start: oct 2017
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Strengthening the National Carbon Monitoring Center (NCMC) and GHG accounting system in Tanzania


In January 2016, Tanzania launched a national carbon monitoring centre (NCMC) at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro. The main purpose of the centre is “to build national capacity to measure, verify and report adequately on carbon emissions at national and international level”. NIBIO is the major technical partner to assist Tanzania’s NCMC, and has taken part in the development and establishment of the centre.

Active Updated: 19.03.2020
End: dec 2022
Start: jan 2015
Sugarcane bagasse and tractor
Biofuel4Kenya: Improving Framework Conditions and Skills for Private Sector Development in Biofuel Value Chain in Kenya (Biofuel4Kenya)


The main objective of the project is to develop a biofuel briquettes production and supply value chain from waste bagasse to market. Biofuel4Kenya will improve framework conditions for private sector development in the biofuel value chain, in order to boost commercial production of carbonized biomass briquettes from agro-industrial residues in western Kenya.

Active Updated: 15.04.2020
End: dec 2021
Start: oct 2018