Forest land use change in the Philippines and climate change mitigation
Tropical forests in countries like the Philippines are important sources and sinks of carbon (C). The paper analyzes the contribution of Philippine forests in climate change mitigation. Since the 1500s, deforestation of 20.9 M ha (106 ha) of Philippine forests contributed 3.7 Pg (1015 g) of C to the atmosphere of which 2.6 Pg were released this century. At present, forest land uses store 1091 Tg (1012 g) of C and sequester 30.5 Tg C/yr while releasing 11.4 Tg C/yr through deforestation and harvesting. In the year 2015, it is expected that the total C storage will decline by 8% (1005 Tg) and total rate of C sequestration will increase by 17% (35.5 Tg/yr). This trend is due to the decline in natural forest area accompanied by an increase in tree plantation area. We have shown that uncertainty in national C estimates still exists because they are readily affected by the source of biomass and C density data. Philippine forests can act as C sink by: conserving existing C sinks, expanding C stocks, and substituting wood products for fossil fuels. Here we analyze the possible implications of the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol to Philippine forests. Finally, we present current research and development efforts on tropical forests and climate change in the Philippines to improve assessments of their role in the nations C budgets.