Forestry and Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Modeling Forum

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Farm Foundation convened this forum to showcase alternative approaches to modeling agriculture and land use, land-use change, and forestry activities that preserve and sequester carbon and/or reduce emissions of other greenhouse gases (GHGs). The plan is to bring together, on an annual basis, leading researchers to compare different bio-physical and economic modeling approaches and empirical analyses of GHG mitigation options in the agriculture and forestry sector. The purpose of the forum is to provide information useful for public and private strategic analysis and planning of domestic and international policy options for carbon sequestration and other mitigation options in the two sectors. The first workshop was Oct.1-3, 2001 in Shepherdstown, WV.

The role for mitigation in agriculture and forestry, including carbon sequestration, relative to other mitigation options is currently a subject of intense scrutiny in both the domestic and international communities. Over the last 10-15 years, substantial bodies of research have accumulated on the economics of mitigation options in the energy sector, and on the impacts of climate change on the agricultural and forestry sectors. However, as the issue of carbon sinks has become a subject of intensive policy scrutiny in the international and domestic communities, a critical mass of research on the economics of mitigation options in agriculture and forestry is beginning to accumulate. The confluence of the emergence of a body of research with high level of demand for its findings makes the forum very timely.

Analyzing short-term GHG mitigation requires linking economic models of agriculture and forestry activities with biophysical models of GHG emissions (sequestration) associated with different activities. To evaluate mitigation potential over the medium- and long-term, it is necessary to include models capable of incorporating feedback effects from climate change on the land-based systems. The “process-based” goal of the forum is to build linkages among the relevant research and policy communities, across discipline, sector, and modeling platforms. The “outcome-based” goals for community building are 1) to improve our current understanding of the models and their (in some cases divergent) results, 2) to identify promising directions for future research to inform public decision-making, and 3) to promote further research, in part through collaborations created through forum activities. Finally, the outreach goal is to improve public decision-making by sharing the results with program managers who fund government research as well as with technical experts who advise policy makers on GHG mitigation.

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