In a nearby future, the capturing and storing of the hothouse gases in specially- grown forests within those Countries which, like Argentina for example, with no real obligations at all to reduce that kind of emissions, will bring an increase of incomes due to the selling of certificates availing that kind of support.
In accordance to the Protocol of Kioto (endorsed in 1997 in this Japanese City), one of the alternatives that both industrialised and transitional Countries have to reduce the damage they bring to the atmosphere is to support emission-reducing or carbon kidnapping projects in underdeveloped countries. This endeavour is written down in the so called Mechanism for Clean Development (MCD) which, in a secondary term, includes both forestation and re-forestation.
The MCD can ensure the access to financiering and for technological transfer in order of providing the implementation these projects will need, as well as allowing the exchange of certificates for reducing carbon emissions. One of the goals of the MCD lies in its contribution to stabilize the concentrations of hothouse gases down to a harmless degree for climate.
In order of allowing the Patagonian foresters to partake in the "Green Bonus" market, the INTA Bariloche measured the capacity for carbon capturing of the pine tree plantations, of the cypress tree native woods and from the natural grasslands in the zone. The extent of the research engulfed a stripe that runs parallel to the Andean Ridge, ranging from the nearby areas of the Curruhué Lake in Neuquén to the Epuyén Lake in Chubut.
To estimate the carbon contents of the woods, complete trees were extracted, including their roots. A total weight of dry matter was obtained, keeping in mind that fifty per cent of dried matter is constituted by carbon. With these numbers the equations comparing the carbon contents with the trees overall volumes were updated. As it came out, one hectare of ponderosa pine trees(pinus ponderosa) can store between 4 to 5 carbon tons per year.
Over this data base the technicians asserted that the internal rate of return, which could reach 10 per cent with a proper management and forest promotion, could reach 15 % if the payment for carbon capturing is added.
Among the many assets that could be obtained stands out the augment of incomes through the sale of sequestered carbon, sensibly improving the competitiveness of the plantations in this case, additionally contributing with other private and social benefits, such as containing the erosion of the grounds, the diversification of economy as well as more jobs.
In the area which is the object of this research, the potential of economical development of plantations could be enhanced from 50.000 / 80.000 hectares of the most suitable places to 350.000 / 400.000 hectares of less appropriate places, presently natural grasslands.
Having in mind the past desertification processes related to inadequate farming procedures and the loss of capitals from the fields, the economic advantages of the forest management with pine tree plantations -either replacing or complimentary to cattle breeding depending on each individual case- should become an important boost for changing the use of the land to a more equilibrated one.
Technicians seek to generate scientific based information for the times when the "green bonus" market is fully functioning, that is, when the "Kyoto Protocol" is adjourned by those Countries producing at least 55 % of the total emissions of polluting gases and also once the international laws for recognising these forest enterprises as "carbon dumpsters" is well defined.
The quantification and storage of carbon in the trees and the testing of its endurance or its loss through time is a challenge for science and production, and brings to markets the new notion of environmental service values offered by cultivated forests.
On the other hand, discussions about carbon dumpsters have not surpassed the point of controversy. NGOs have warned that this solution would be no other than a way of evading a most needed technologic changing by industrialised nations, by and large the major polluters of the atmosphere. They also warn us about the risk that the advance of cultivated forests lands (quickest in capturing carbon), could outgrow and advance over native forest areas.
According to Pablo Laclau, technician for the INTA in San Martín de los Andes, the aspects to consider for carbon quantification and storage in cultivated forests will be:
1) Knowledge of the forestall surface.
2) Knowing the "base line", that is, the amounts of carbon 'kidnapped' by a given system within an area and the outcome for the plantation.
3) Estimating the annual amounts of carbon grabbed during the development of the forest project (storage through time and losses or escapes, for which will be needed to have statistics of, for example, fire risk)
4) To make sure that the amounts of carbon retained will stay for long terms (this will mean to re-forest while the existing forests have done their time).
The possible thrust achieved by forestation in Patagonia owing to the interest of producers in taking part of the "green bonus" market, if leaved uncontrolled and lacking the accordingly laws could change the face of the region, because exotic species need to be properly controlled. In here rests the importance of creating poliphitic forests (in which native and exotic species are combined) inside those zones that are suffering from desertification, with the subsequent increasing of the value of the wood reserve that could come out of it.
The information used to elaborate this report was obtained from articles produced by:
INTA SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
FUNDACION VIDA SILVESTRE.(NGO)
INTA (INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE TECNOLOGIA AGROPECUARIA)