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Research article2012Peer reviewedOpen access

Individual tree biomass equations or biomass expansion factors for assessment of carbon stock changes in living biomass - A comparative study

Petersson, Hans; Holm, Sören; Ståhl, Göran; Alger, David; Fridman, Jonas; Lehtonen, Aleksi; Lundström, Anders; Mäkipää, Raisa


Signatory countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its supplementary Kyoto Protocol (KP) are obliged to report greenhouse gas emissions and removals. Changes in the carbon stock of living biomass should be reported using either the default or stock change methods of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry sector. Traditionally, volume estimates are used as a forestry measures. Changes in living biomass may be assessed by first estimating the change in the volume of stem wood and then converting this volume to whole tree biomass using biomass expansion factors (BEFs). However, this conversion is often non-trivial because the proportion of stem wood increases with tree size at the expense of branches, foliage, stump and roots. Therefore, BEFs typically vary over time and their use may result in biased estimates. The objective of this study was to evaluate differences between biomass estimates obtained using biomass equations and BEFs with particular focus on uncertainty analysis. Assuming that the development of tree fractions in different ways can be handled by individual biomass equations, BEFs for standing stock were shown to overestimate the biomass sink capacity (Sweden). Although estimates for BEFs derived for changes in stock were found to be unbiased, the estimated BEFs varied substantially over time (0.85-1.22 ton CO2/m(3)). However, to some extent this variation may be due to random sampling errors rather than actual changes. The highest accuracy was obtained for estimates based on biomass equations for different tree fractions, applied to data from the Swedish National Forest Inventory using a permanent sample design (estimated change in stock 1990-2005: 420 million tons CO2, with a standard error amounting to 26.7 million tons CO2) Many countries have adopted such a design combined with the stock change method for reporting carbon stock changes under the UNFCCC/KP. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Greenhouse Gas Inventory; Kyoto Protocol; Stock change method; Sweden; Tree allometry

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2012, Volume: 270, pages: 78-84 Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV