There are a number of guidelines and rules to consider when mapping forest areas when applying to be involved in the forestry ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme). One that is often missed by inexperienced forest mapping providers is the need to “position the polygon along the canopy drip-line at maturity“. Simple mapping tools such as that provided by the MAF Online ETS tool only allows users to draw lines around forest based on the imagery shown. However this imagery could already be several years old, or the forest itself in the imagery has not yet reached maturity, potentially resulting in an underestimate of the planted forest “net stocked area”.

Figure 1 shows how even a small buffer of 3m, add a continuous addition of net stocked area to the entire stand boundary.

MAF suggests buffering up to 4m based on the stand age (compared to the date of imagery) and species. This becomes more evident when looking at a smaller stand.

Why does it matter ?

These buffer areas could easily add up to extra hectares of net stocked area added to your application. For example, even just one additional hectare of net stocked area on a stand yielding approximately 800 tonnes of CO2 could mean an additional $20,000 of income over the life of the stand based on a carbon price of say $25/CO2. This quickly pays for your stand mapping to be done correctly the first time. For Pre-1990 forest land owners you only have one shot at identifying your forest land area. For Post-1989 forest land owners entering the ETS, changing CAA (Carbon Assessment Areas) polygon shape and hence area, means a relatively complex process of withdrawing the current submitted application and reprocessing a new one into the MAF system.

Interpine operate the ESRI ArcGIS software and have qualified resource foresters and mapping professionals to make this process simple, fast and efficient. Mapping is part of our normal forest consulting and service business so we are familar with the standard forest mapping regulations and guidelines.

We advise forest owners to spend the time early on in the application process and get the mapping job done right the first time.

For more information: MAF Guide to Mapping Forest Land for the ETS