Beyond Carbon Neutral Seminar Series: Tim Pearson of Winrock International Asks: Can Land Management Contribute to a Net Carbon Sink, and Can it be Monitored Accurately?

Did you miss Tim Pearson’s Beyond Carbon Neutral Seminar Series talk on March 22?

Watch the video on YouTube or view the slides (PDF: 5.5MB).


Agriculture, forestry and other land uses (AFOLU) are responsible for about a quarter of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Forestry and especially deforestation accounts for a third of the emissions that occurred between 1750 and 2011. The significance of these emissions and the location of these emissions among rural and often disadvantaged populations makes land management an important opportunity for climate change mitigation.

Estimates show that more than 6% of global emissions from all sectors could be offset by actions in the AFOLU sector at less than $20/t CO2 and almost 15% at $100/t CO2. Specific implemented activities would include avoiding deforestation, avoiding forest degradation, increasing sustainable forest management, afforestation and agroforestry, and within agriculture, restoring soils, managing growing lands and livestock, and managing croplands.

The REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) process has been in development for the last decade and since the Paris Agreement in 2015 countries globally have committed to unconditional and conditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) including the land use sector.

Monitoring has been considered a challenge for AFOLU GHG mitigation, but this is no longer a reality. Allometry and biogeochemical modeling accurately assess greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration from forests and agriculture respectively. Tools for monitoring are improving and costs are decreasing all the time with advances in remote sensing and access to big data sources.

About Timothy Pearson

Dr. Timothy Pearson is a carbon specialist with over 10 years of experience leading and contributing to more than 100 domestic and international climate change and land use projects. Dr. Pearson has led research and assessment teams, and published dozens of technical reports and articles for peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Pearson is an expert on greenhouse gas accounting for land use at the national, sub-national and project scales. He has authored standards for the VCS and has sat on methodology committees for the Climate Action Reserve and the Bi-national ANSI-Accredited Forest Carbon Standards Committee. He served on the Afforestation and Reforestation Working Group of the CDM, and currently serves on the VCS AFOLU Steering Committee.

Dr. Pearson is an innovator problem solving analytical and field measurement barriers and designing new accounting approaches. Examples of innovations led by Dr Pearson include technical leadership for Jurisdictional and Nested REDD, designing leakage approaches for REDD project accounting, creating performance standards for forest management in the US, developing landscape greenhouse gas accounting approaches, and assessing fire emissions and potential emission reduction.

These talks are made possible through the U-M Distinguished Faculty and Graduate Student Seminar series award from the Provost and the Office of Research and are co-hosted by the Energy Institute, School for Environment and Sustainability, and Erb Institute for Sustainable Enterprise.