Consistent representation of lands

What is a consistent representation of lands?

Under the UNFCCC framework, countries are required to aggregate emissions to particular land categories. These are forest land, cropland, grassland, wetlands, settlements and other lands. Due to the importance of these reporting categories, the land must be consistently represented through time and across different data sources. This will ensure that there are no, or limited, artificial changes in land-use, and allow for accurate comparison to different reporting years.

How does FLINT ensure consistent representation of lands?

The first generation tools used simple classification systems based either on stands that remained forest or classification that allowed for a one-time conversion to a category (for example, forestland to cropland or cropland to forestland).

As a second-generation tool, FLINT can automatically report changes between land use categories for a variety of spatial, spatially referenced, aspatial and policy inputs. Input data can be remote sensing data or tabular data. This approach is akin to Approach 3 within the IPCC Guidelines (See Volume 4; Chapter 3 - Consistent representation of lands). Based on these inputs, each Simulation Unit will be tagged as a specific land classification. Land use categories are set by the individual user. Each land-use class is also assigned to an IPCC land use category.

For example, land that is mapped as wheat will also be tagged as Cropland for UNFCCC reporting purposes. This allows for consistent reporting against IPCC classes without needing to create maps of IPCC classes.

Aspatial and policy inputs are necessary, as the IPCC land-use categories cannot be mapped directly from remote sensing. This is because there are policy decisions, such as forest and crop definitions, that affect the categorisation. Land can, for instance, move between categories based on time in that category. For example, Forestland converted to Cropland will need to move to Cropland remaining Cropland at some point (commonly 20 years, but variable for Tier 3 systems). These processes can be mapped out using the decision trees in the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

The FLINT can track lands for other policy and reporting needs. For example, the FLINT can apply rules relating to natural disturbance provisions under the Kyoto Protocol and can address issues of base years. The FLINT will place other gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, into the correct reporting categories for the UNFCCC reporting. For example, non-CO2 from the fire will need to be put in the biomass burning table, and be separated from non-CO2 from management fires.