This page is an outcome of the EC BAIS LIFE Environment Project which is being developed as an information/ knowledge bar and a one-stop-shop for people interested in working to mitigate or adapt to climate change.



Background


A chemical strategy to adapt to climate change is to capture CO2 from burning fossil fuels at power stations and bury it deep underground. 'Eco-carbon counters' presents a complementary view; that carbon capture and storage also involves managing ecosystems. Forests, grasslands and oceans have been evolving as biological carbon-catchers for millennia. Ecosystems therefore, no matter how small, contribute to the profit and loss account of a human green economy. This economy is measured by counting the amounts and kinds of chemical carbon entering and leaving the biosphere and managing these flows to maintain an internationally agreed target of 450 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere.

Management of fossil fuel use and adoption of carbon capture technologies will not in themselves be sufficient to prevent serious climate change in the next few decades. This collection of documents shows how management of carbon in the environment has a vital role to play. Even with drastic cuts in fossil fuel emissions, current landuse practices would still lead to significant increases in greenhouse gas concentrations. Environmental management has two fundamental components: ensuring that existing carbon stocks held in ecosystems and in agricultural areas remain secure; and finding ecological routes to increase the rate at which carbon is sequestered in these systems.Overview of carbon capture and storage

History

Human history is the story of an increasing independence of nature achieved by discovery and invention. Human societies were at first completely at the mercy of local planetary, solar and biological systems which gave opportunities to some, and terrible handicaps to others. But as groups took the opportunities to protect themselves against natural hazards, and manage natural features to produce benefits, groups became more independent of nature. History began to reflect more and more the social organisation that developed as a consequence of being able to manage the local cultural inputs of human, as well as natural, resources. However, quest for knowledge was not separated from conquest of people's and their lands. Nevertheless, from prehistoric times, 'resources and managers' has been a theme to focus families and communities on long-term environmental independence, and economic progress. Civilisations of the past have succumbed not only to the pressures of uncontrolled nature, but also to the results of their own unmanaged actions upon it. Now, the global objective of humanity is to manage our use of natural resources and limit the impact of greenhouse gases on the Earth's temperature.

Approach

As the rate of social change accelerates, so there is an increased need for long-term management of resources to maintain cultural stability. At the heart of Eco-carbon counters' is the problem of how to turn Agenda 21, the blueprint of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, into political, social and technological management systems for sustainable development. This can only be achieved by transforming our more demanding consumer systems into 'systems of living sustainably' using appropriate methods of environmental appraisal with operational indicators for checking out success of local action plans.

Conclusion


On a day to day basis, or operational level, resources and managers are organised through methods of appraisal as a system with five components:-
  • a measurable objective, defined as a good or service to be produced or maintained in a certain state;
  • routes to action, which describe the categories of work to be organised by the manager;
  • a planned sequence of actions required within each work category to reach the objective in a specified time, which say who is to do the work, what they will need, how long it should take and how much it will cost (projects);
  • an attribute of the good or service that should be used to monitor its state, and thereby be a reportable measure of managerial success;
  • the consumers of the goods or service, who, either through individual choice or legislation, determine what is marketable, and thereby set the objectives of resource management.
Whether one is trying to organise an aboriginal hunting system, a nature reserve, or a steel works, human skills, materials, energy and finance (the resources), have to be organised within the above management logic.

Subject architecture


The key messages are that it is vital to manage carbon in biological systems, to safeguard existing stores of carbon, reduce emissions and to maximise the potential of natural and agricultural areas for removing carbon from the atmosphere. This present day view is in line with the foundation view of nature conservation which attached values to species and ecosystems according to their significance to definable human interests. But the emphasis has shifted from counting carbon in terms of rarity and diversity of species and ecosystems, to managing ecosystems for carbon in order to reduce carbon emissions and also actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These considerations define the basic subject architecture of Eco-carbon counters' as 'making lists', 'defining systems' and attributing values to their living components so they can be managed to maximise the carbon they represent in terms of its diversity, mass and sustainability.

Lists

The first task in evaluating nature is to list the different expressions of habitat and species composition in order to delineate the most valuable and vulnerable part of the national nature capital.

Taxonomy and conservation go hand-in-hand. We cannot necessarily expect to conserve organisms that we cannot identify, and our attempts to understand the consequences of environmental change and degradation are compromised fatally if we cannot recognize and describe the interacting components of natural ecosystems. Making lists is therefore essential as a preliminary to organising a comprehensive local management plan to apportion carbon between the various species that comprise an ecosystem.
Any ecosystem classification system is arbitrary. It introduces artificial separations in landscapes undergoing slow change by dividing the modifiers in subdivisions agreed by convention, which can often not be located in the field with precision. Mangement subdivisions have all the biases of their authors, as well as all the imperfections and errors inherent to any map and to any classification system. To compensate for such imperfections, sound field data needs to be collected on physical and biological parameters and species through consistent sampling, and stored in a logically organised mangaement database.
The following two documents are (1) a UNEP commissioned Rapid Assessment Report which presents carbon capture and storage through a Green Economy lens outlining the potential in terms of managing ecosystems, and (2) an extract from the first UK review and evaluation of nature sites.Taxonomy in conservation management


Systems

The next task is to define wildlife and habitat as distinct ecosystems with the various factors, intrinsic and extrinsic which influence them. Conceptually, they all count as carbon fixed by phosynthesis.

Civilization depends on life-support services that natural ecosystems perform, including regulating climate, mitigating floods and drought, protecting shorelines from erosion, purifying air and water, detoxifying and decomposing wastes, and pollinating crops and natural vegetation. Healthy ecosystems provide habitat for diverse fish and wildlife communities. Studies conducted by USGS Terrestrial, Freshwater, and Marine Environments scientists describe factors that control ecosystem structure, function, condition, and the provision of goods and services. This information is used to predict future changes to ecosystems and to describe the results of management alternatives. Ecosystem science is thus used tomake and operate management plans to restore degraded landscapes and freshwater systems, sustain plants and animals, and find means to adapt management to global change

Ecosystems biomes and habitats

Our Heritage of Wild Nature by A G Tansley. This little book (1946) surveys the wildlife habitats of Britain and sets the scene of the establishment of the UK Nature Conservancy Council and conservation management.

Values

Attributes are then attached to ecosystems and species to reflect their values. Some criteria involve more subjective concepts of quality than others and their attributes are less precisely quantifiable. Clearly, conservation of habitats and species as carbon sinks will be concerned more with abundance than rarity. Management systems based on the values are then put in place to maintain species and habitats in a favourable steady state with regards the diversity and mass of its carbon.

Agenda 21 says:Undertake country studies or use other methods to identify components of biological diversity important for its conservation and for the sustainable use of biological resources, ascribe values to biological and genetic resources, identify processes and activities with significant impacts upon biological diversity, evaluate the potential economic implications of the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of biological and genetic resources, and suggest priority action.
Take effective economic, social and other appropriate incentive measures to encourage the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of biological resources, including the promotion of sustainable production systems, such as traditional methods of agriculture, agroforestry, forestry, range and wildlife management, which use, maintain or increase biodiversity.
Conservation management
Ecosystem evaluation

Management model

This is the UK Wash Flats and Marshes.


Non-breeding UK wetland bird survey