Policy enabling tropical forests to approach their potential contribution to global-climate-change mitigation requires forecasts of land use and carbon storage on a large scale over long periods.
In this paper, we present an integrated modeling methodology that addresses these needs. We model the dynamics of the human land-use system and of C pools contained in each ecosystem, as well as their interactions.
The model is national scale, and is currently applied in a preliminary way to Costa Rica using data spanning a period of over fifty years. It combines an ecological process model, parameterized using field and other data, with an economic model, estimated using historical data to ensure a close link to actual behavior. These two models are linked so that ecological conditions affect land-use choices and vice versa.
The integrated model predicts land use and its consequences for C storage for policy scenarios. These predictions can be used to create baselines, reward sequestration, and estimate the value in both environmental and economic terms of including C sequestration in tropical forests as part of the efforts to mitigate global climate change. The model can also be used to assess the benefits from costly activities to increase accuracy and thus reduce errors and their societal costs.