Colombia, Valle del Cauca, Municipio de Pradera, quebrada agua clara en la via a la vereda el arenillo
Fondo Agua por la vida y la sostenibilidad Colombia, Valle del Cauca, Municipio de Pradera, quebrada agua clara en la via a la vereda el arenillo © Fredy Gómez Suescún/TNC

Colombia

Solutions for Climate Change in Colombia: NCS for NDC

Robust science shows how Natural Climate Solutions can boost Colombia's ambitions for the Nationally Determined Contributions

In Colombia 62% of total GHG emissions comes from the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector, mainly from deforestation (36%) and conventional cattle ranching practices. The Industry, Transportation, Energy, Residential and Waste sectors represent 11%, 11%, 10%, 4% and 2% of total GHG emissions, respectively. By 2018 the total area of natural forests in Colombia was ca. 60 Mha, but the rate of deforestation during the last decade has increased dramatically, risking the achievement of the NDC goal of the country.

NDC reduction target of Colombia is 20% compared with the baseline, which represents an emission reduction of around 67 Mt CO2e yr-1 by 2030. According to Griscom et al. (2020), Avoided Forest Conversion, Reforestation (which we call Forest Restoration and is focused on natural forests and excludes commercial plantations), and Tress in Ag Lands (for which in our case we only include silvopastoral systems) are the three NCS pathways with the largest potential to cost-effectively meet NDC targets in Latin America, including Colombia.

 

During the first stages of the NCS for NDCs – Colombia project we also compared all possible NCS pathways that might be implemented in Colombia, and ranked their importance according to i) mitigation potential, ii) data availability, iii) internal capacities to conduct future analyses, iv) co-benefits, and v) approximate cost-effectiveness. For doing that we consulted experts from the government, other NGOs, research institutions, etc. At the end we obtained a list of eight NCS pathways of high importance for Colombia, although our decision was to be focused on the three first pathways for this project and include the rest in future analyses: 1) Avoided Forest Conversion, 2) Forest Restoration, 3) Trees in Ag Lands (silvopastoral), 4) Avoided Peatlands Conversion, 5) Avoided Wetlands Conversion, 6) Avoided Natural Savannas Conversion, 7) Natural Forest Management, and 8) Wetlands Restoration (Figure 1).

Ranking of NCS pathways that can be implemented in Colombia in support of country’s NDC goal.
Figura 1. Ranking of NCS pathways that can be implemented in Colombia in support of country’s NDC goal. © TNC Colombia

After selecting the pathways of interest for this assessment, we conducted an analysis to establish the maximum mitigation potential of each pathway in the country for the period 2018 – 2030. For doing that we used country- or region-specific emission/removal factors and maps developed by official technical institutions, research institutions or TNC Colombia.

The maximum mitigation potential of Avoided Forest Conversion was estimated by using the following maps (scale 1:100,000) and model:

i)                    Forest – Non forest 2018,

ii)                   Carbon content in above-ground biomass based on life zones (Temperature + Precipitation),

iii)                 Model of deforestation 2018 – 2030.

As result, we found that the maximum potential mitigation from Avoided Forest Conversion is 0.22 Gt CO2e yr-1 by 2030 over an area of 7.1 Mha (Figure 2).

Maximum mitigation potential (t CO2e) from the NCS pathway Avoided Forest Conversion in Colombia during the period 2018-2030.
Figure 2. Maximum mitigation potential (t CO2e) from the NCS pathway Avoided Forest Conversion in Colombia during the period 2018-2030. © TNC Colombia

In the case Forest Restoration, the maximum mitigation potential was estimated by using the following maps (scale 1:100,000):

i)                    Agriculture Frontier (this map gives us official information on land aptitude/suitability for Colombia, including areas where land aptitude is conservation or restoration),

ii)                   Ecosystems (also official information about natural ecosystems in Colombia),

iii)                 Natural Savannas (it’s a category of the Ecosystems map and was used as a mask to prevent afforestation activities on natural ecosystems),

iv)                 Forest – Non forest 2018,

v)                   Deforestation 2010 – 2018 (according to national legislation all areas deforested during this period must be subject to restoration activities,

vi)                 Paramos (it’s another category of the Ecosystems map and was used as a mask to prevent afforestation activities on natural ecosystems),

vii)               National Restoration Plan (this is an official initiative that aims to restore degraded areas in the country, and includes forest restoration, silvopastoral systems among others).

As result, we found that the maximum potential mitigation from Forest Restoration is 0.12 Gt CO2e yr-1 by 2030 over an area of 15.1 Mha (Figure 3).

 

Maximum mitigation potential (t CO2e) from the NCS pathway Forest Restoration in Colombia during the period 2018-2030.
Figure 3. Maximum mitigation potential (t CO2e) from the NCS pathway Forest Restoration in Colombia during the period 2018-2030. © TNC Colombia

Finally, the maximum mitigation potential of Trees in Ag Lands was estimated by using the following maps (scale 1:100,000):

i)                    Agriculture Frontier (in this case, the map gives us official information on land aptitude for cattle ranching activities [beef and milk] in Colombia where silvopastoral initiatives might be implemented),

ii)                   Ecosystems (also official information about natural ecosystems in Colombia),

iii)                 Natural Savannas (it’s a category of the Ecosystems map and was used as a mask to prevent afforestation activities on natural ecosystems),

iv)                 Forest – Non forest 2018,

v)                   Deforestation 2010 – 2018 (according to national legislation all areas deforested during this period must be subject to restoration activities,

vi)                 Paramos (it’s another category of the Ecosystems map and was used as a mask to prevent afforestation activities on natural ecosystems),

vii)               National Restoration Plan (this is an official initiative that aims to restore degraded areas in the country, and includes forest restoration, silvopastoral systems among others).

As result, we found that the maximum potential mitigation from Trees in Ag Lands is 0.08 Gt CO2e yr-1 by 2030 over an area of 10.7 Mha (Figure 4).

 

Maximum mitigation potential (tCO2e) from the NCS pathway Trees in Ag Lands in Colombia during the period 2018-2030.
Figure 4. Maximum mitigation potential (tCO2e) from the NCS pathway Trees in Ag Lands in Colombia during the period 2018-2030. © TNC Colombia

Economic information

In a preliminary exploration about methods and data required to estimate MAC curves based on Busch et al. (2019) research, we identified some national sources of information that could provide accurate BAU Ag revenue data from the Price Index for Producers – National Ag Survey (National Administrative Department of Statistics).

TNC Colombia also has information about costs of implementation of and revenue from silvopastoral systems as part of the Sustainable Cattle Ranching project.

We thought that this information could be used to model deforestation, restoration and the implementation of silvopastoral systems under a business-as-usual scenario, compared to an NCS mitigation potential scenario with carbon prices such as Busch et al. (2019; Fig. 1) did:

Global MAC curves. The potencial CO2 abatement from tropical reforestation and reduced emissions from tropical deforestation is shown for decades from 2020 to 2050.
Figure 5. Global MAC curves. The potencial CO2 abatement from tropical reforestation and reduced emissions from tropical deforestation is shown for decades from 2020 to 2050. © TNC Colombia