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Carbon sequestration potential in different Belgian terrestrial ecosystems: quantification and strategic exploration (CASTEC)

Research project EV/12 (Research action EV)

Persons :

Description :


The CASTEC project is situated within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and the Belgian Federal Plan for Sustainable Development (2000-2004). The Kyoto Protocol determines emission reductions for a basket of 6 greenhouse gases. During the first commitment period (2008-2012) Belgium has to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 7,5% in comparison to the level of 1990 (baseline year emission). Articles 3.3 and 3.4, of the protocol offer an opportunity to demonstrate CO2 reduction/removal through C-sequestration via afforestation, reforestation and deforestation and forest management and additional human-induced activities (e.g. in agriculture).
The project also falls within the scope of the Belgian Federal Plan for Sustainable Development. The purpose of this plan is, partly, to formulate a coherent policy of sectoral and transsectoral measures to realise the emission reductions of the Kyoto Protocol by means of a new Belgian climate plan.

Project description


The main objective of this project is to produce a reliable quantification and to perform a strategic exploration of the C-sequestration potential of Belgian forests, plantations, arable lands and grasslands to demonstrate atmospheric CO2 removal via terrestrial sinks. The data in the Belgian national greenhouse gas inventory communications to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), indicate a large uncertainty and a clear lack of information concerning the size and nature of these reservoirs for CO2 reduction in Belgium. Modern environmental policy and decision-making need a multi-disciplinary approach and more than one solution. Therefore, the main objective is split into several specific objectives, which will be covered in different Task Forces (TF):
TF1: Determination of the C-sequestration potential of arable land by exploring different soil management scenarios.
TF2: Determination of the C-sequestration potential of grassland and urban land.
TF3: Determination of the C-sequestration potential of forests and biomass/bio-energy plantations.
TF4a: Determination of nitrous oxide (N2O) and CO2 emission and methane (CH4) uptake as a result of the management scenarios of TF1, TF2 and TF3.
TF4b: Establishment of methods for quantification/verification of annual new soil C accumulation.
TF5: Optimisation of an existing Dynamic Vegetation Model to predict C storage and C uptake in the ecosystems of TF2 and TF3.

The baseline C storage for the reference year 1990 for arable land (TF1), grassland/urban land (TF2) and forests/plantations (TF3) will be determined by using historical data sets.


The following methods will, amongst others, be used during the course of the project:
- Collection of historical data sets for the calculation of the 1990 baseline.
- Re-sampling of a large number of locations for which the soil organic carbon content is already known for at least 2 points in time.
- Establishment of a plantation and other field trials to investigate the effect of ecosystem management on C-sequestration.
- Flux measurements (CO2, N2O, CH4).
- Process studies using stable isotopes.
- Modelling.

Interaction between the different partners

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Expected results and/or products

The direct exploitation of the CASTEC project is situated on a national level and within the international scientific community. Through a reliable quantification and the strategic exploration of the possibilities of C sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems in order to meet the Belgian greenhouse gas emission targets, this project will contribute to quality assurance, quality control and completeness of the Belgian greenhouse gas inventory. Moreover, it can offer policy options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), however, many questions exist on reporting, exploration, monitoring and verification with regard to the application of articles 3.3 and 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol. This project can contribute in solving these international problems.
In order to be successful, a modern environmental policy should rely on scientific analysis and a broad partnership. Therefore, the most important element of a successful environmental policy is bringing together all parties necessary for the correct implementation of potential measures. With this in mind, an integrated assessment of the scientific research results will take place during a two-yearly workshop. The purpose of such a workshop is therefore not purely scientific. It is our intention to communicate the obtained scientific results as soon as possible to: scientists of related disciplines, policy makers, actors involved (e.g. farmers organisations, foresters, ..) and the media.



Research at the Laboratory of Applied Physical Chemistry deals with the biogeochemistry of C and N in terrestrial ecosystems, using flux measurements and stable isotopes to unravel relevant processes.
The Department of Soil Management and Soil Care focuses on the determination of the C-sequestration potential of Belgian cropland by exploration of different soil management scenarios, using existing data sets and modelling.
Research at the Laboratory of Plant Ecology is focused on the carbon and water cycle of terrestrial ecosystems, including the up scaling by an experimental or a modelling approach.
The Laboratory of Forestry is responsible for the carbon pools inventory of Belgian forests and biomass plantations and established a 1 ha short rotation plantation for research on the changes in above- and belowground carbon pools.
The Department of Crop Husbandry and Ecophysiology (ARC - Gent) conducts research concerning the impact of agricultural practices on yield and quality of crops and plants and environment in the frame of the multi-functionality of a sustainable agriculture.

Contact Information


Oswald Van Cleemput
Universiteit Gent (RUG)
Laboratorium voor Toegepaste Fysicochemie
Coupure links 653, B-9000 Gent
Tel: +32 (0)9 264 60 04; Fax: +32 (0)9 264 62 42

Georges Hofman
Universiteit Gent (RUG)
Vakgroep Bodembeheer en Bodemhygiëne
Coupure links 653, B-9000 Gent
Tel: +32 (0)9 264 60 54; Fax: +32 (0)9 264 62 47

Raoul Lemeur
Universiteit Gent (RUG)
Laboratorium voor Plantecologie
Coupure links 653, B-9000 Gent
Tel: +32 (0)9 264 61 16; Fax: +32 (0)9 224 44 10

Noël Lust
Universiteit Gent (RUG)
Laboratorium voor Bosbouw
Geraardbergse Steenweg 267, B-9090 Melle (Gontrode
Tel: +32 (0)9 252 21 13; Fax: +32 (0)9 252 54 66

Lucien Carlier
Centrum voor Landbouwkundig Onderzoek - Gent (CLO-Gent)
Departement Fytotechnie en Ecofysiologie
Burg. Van Gansberghelaan 109, B-9820 Merlebeke
Tel: +32 (0)9 272 27 00; Fax: +32 (0)9 272 27 01

Users Committee

Bob Nieuwejaers - Ministry of the Flemish Community - Division General Environment and Nature Policy
Dirk Van Hoye - Ministry of the Flemish Community - Forest and Green Areas Division
Jos Van Slycken - Institute for Forestry and Game Management
François Stuyckens - Flemish Land Agency
Pierre Richir - SITEREM Ltd.

Documentation :

Carbon sequestration potential in different Belgian terrestrial ecosystems: quantification and strategic exploration (CASTEC) : final report  Beheydt, Daan - Goossens, Annick - Boeckx, Pascal ... et al  Brussels : Federal Science Policy , 2006 (SP1930)
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