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Natural Climate Solutions
Dec 2 • 5 min read

Aspiration for better forest carbon calculation tool

Understanding the climate impacts of your operations and actions is a genuine trend rather than a fashion. In the realm of forestry, we have seen rapid growth of the role and importance of forest carbon. It is increasingly seen as a crucial aspect that we need to understand and take into consideration when making decisions about how to manage our forests. Estimation of forest climate impacts is not a new thing, but the existing tools and methodologies are often either very coarse with high uncertainties or overly complex and not globally scalable. To make our mark in this effort, we are developing a methodology and a tool for calculating forest carbon sequestration, FRESCOS, together with four European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI): Finnfund (Finland), FMO (Netherlands), Swedfund (Sweden) and CDC Group (UK). The methodology is currently under a stakeholder review process, and the tool itself is expected to be operational by the end of this year.

Carbon calculation methodology that serves the purpose

The methodology applied in FRESCOS was created in close collaboration with the participating EDFIs to meet their needs and the characteristics of the forestry projects they are engaging with in developing economies.The starting point was in finding the appropriate balance between input requirements and global applicability. For global applicability, the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories was a natural starting point. The guidelines were assessed piece-by-piece, and matched to meet the characteristics and the input parameters normally obtainable from forestry projects that EDFIs are investing in. The key aspect and challenge was to aim for best possible accuracy, while allowing global applicability. The methodological scope includes aboveground and belowground biomass, soil organic carbon stocks, and carbon stored in wood products manufactured from harvested trees.

– One of the main challenges with projects of this scale is that you need to make compromises and find the right balance between accuracy, applicability and overall usability. The decisions we have made for FRESCOS will hopefully facilitate this discussion, and contribute to a global effort by all of us to push ever further and develop better solutions for improving our understanding of the climate impacts of forests and their management. FRESCOS and the methodology applied there within, is now our best shot in this effort, and we’ll continue to update and improve the tool and the methodology in coming years in collaboration with EDFIs and other users, says Juho Penttilä, Simosol’s Head of Carbon Solutions.

Keep it simple to use, if you want it to be used

Previously available solutions have been based on rough assumptions, they have not been up-to-date, they’ve been too complex, or not really designed for project level calculations with a global geographical scope. Update and upkeep of these tools has also been unclear and unsecure. With FRESCOS, users will be able to calculate the annual carbon impacts and their development for any forest project, and analyse, visualize and share the results within their organisation within the tool’s web-based interface. Results can be also exported into Excel-spreadsheet for further post-processing and reporting purposes.

– Core part of the development work was to create the simplest possible user interface, that does not require a big manual to be read before you can actually start using the tool, Penttilä explains and continues:

– The only thing that the user needs to do is to insert certain key information about the forest project. The FRESCOS approach doesn’t require the user to build any tailor-made growth models or import complicated and unstandardized datasets of the forest resources. In FRESCOS, the complicated analysis is built-in.

The tool allows the user not only to make annual calculations for one year, but also to make scenarios to estimate future or past development of the forest resources and their carbon impacts. This feature supports EDFIs in strategic planning and decision-making, particularly for assessment of new potential investments. The scenario analysis feature enables quantified estimation of the climate impacts of the investment over time and over the investment period. This information is crucial for understanding how to achieve the strategic climate targets of the organisations.

Open discussion and joint-effort is vital for the Earth

Penttilä hopes that this new tool will also facilitate wider discussion and generate increased interest to develop even better solutions and tools for forest carbon quantification.

– I wish the discourse will be open and become more active when it comes to developing and applying new forest carbon calculation approaches and tools. Next tool, whoever the developer is, will hopefully be better, more accurate and even more widely applied than FRESCOS, which has been designed for the needs and context of EDFIs and similar users. We are living critical times in many aspects, and I see that the solutions and tools that we have available now, and will have over the next few years, will set the scene how the multitude of world’s forests are seen, valued, and managed in decades to come, Penttilä concludes.

Simosol’s carbon solutions help to integrate carbon into forest value chains and management strategies by various types of investors and large forest owners. Let’s discuss about your business and it’s future prospects!

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Juho Penttilä

+358 407767945

Victoria Poljatschenko

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