Q: Are forest plantation projects eligible as CDM project activities? Could oil palms and fast-growing crop plantations be registered as CDM projects and generate carbon credits for sale ?
A: Basically, projects that involve crop plantation can be CDM projects. More specifically, they must be either afforestation or deforestation projects. However, a project must first meet the definitions of “forest land.” In general, forest land is an area of land not less than 0.05–1 hectare (500–10,000 sq.m.) with the stand density or “crown cover” greater than 10–30 per cent of the area. The trees must have a growing potential to reach at least 2–5* meters at maturity. If the above criteria are met, the plantation area can be classified as a forest land.
As for Thailand, a forest land is defined as an area with a size of at least 1 rai (0.16 hectares). Tree crown cover must be greater than 30 percent of the total area with trees usually reaching a height of more than 3 meters. In Thailand, CDM project activities that involve forest or crop plantation can only be either afforestation or reforestation and must comply with the following definitions:
- Afforestation is the direct human-induced conversion of land that has not been forested for a period of at least 50 years to forested land through planting, seeding and/or the human-induced promotion of natural seed sources.
- Reforestation is the direct human-induced conversion of non-forested land to forested land through planting, seeding and/or the human-induced promotion of natural seed sources, on land that was forested but that has been converted to non-forested land. For the first commitment period, reforestation occurring on those lands that did not contain forest on 31 December 1989.
* The minimum height of trees that is used in defining criteria of “forest area” varies from one country to another. Host countries that agree to enlist afforestation and reforestation activities for CDM are required to form and submit their local criteria to the EB.