The Chinese Grain for Green Program
Abstract: Grain for Green Program or Sloping Land Conversion Program was launched in China as a national measure to control erosion and increase vegetation cover in 1999. With a budget of 40 billion USD dollars, the program that targets cropland and barren land has today converted over 20 million hectares of land into primarily tree-based plantations. Even though the design of the program includes a category of energy forest only a negligible part is planted as such (0.61%). The majority of the land converted is for protection (78%). The use of these plantations in the future is however unclear and a hypothesis of energy substitution is valid.In this paper, we try to estimate the overall carbon that has been sequestered due to the program by using official statistics from the program and by calculating it according to mainly three different approaches; calculations made on I) net primary production, II) figures from IPCC’s greenhouse gas inventory guidelines, and III) mean annual increment. We also highlight several of the uncertainties that are associated with the program and the estimations.The result shows that conversion of cropland and barren land generated carbon sequestration over its 10 first years ranging from 222 to 468 million tonnes of carbon, with the IPCC approach yielding the highest estimate whereas the other two approaches had more similar outcome (around 250 million tonnes of carbon). Uncertainties associated with the assessment lies within the use of growth curves not designed for the particular species and their different locations, actual survival rate of the plantations, and discrepancies in figures concerning the program (e.g. area, type, survival rates) at different levels of authority (from national to local). The carbon sequestered in the biomass (above and below ground) from this program is equivalent to 14% (based on median of all three approaches) of China’s carbon dioxide emissions due to fossil-fuel use and cement production.
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