Lambir carbon project (proposal)

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Carbon Storage in Different Forest Types of Sarawak, Borneo

Kimberly O'Donnell, Romadoni Anggoro and Cameron Kirk-Giannini



Measurements of the total above-ground carbon content per hectare of forest ecosystems have several important and timely applications. The burgeoning carbon credit industry, for example, is faced with the problem of accurately valuing its credits, and this process depends on precisely determining the amount of carbon stored in particular forest sites. Moreover, land use decisions in areas bordering rain forests must be made with relative carbon content measures in mind because carbon storage is a potential financial asset for the forest guardians. We examine the total above-ground biomass of four forest plots representative of common land-use types in Sarawak, Borneo. We determine quantities of stored carbon using allometric conversion methods.

The four forest-types to be examined are: Primary Dipterocarp Forest (PDF), Secondary Forest (SF), Heath Forest (HF), and Palm Oil Plantation (POP).


We hypothesize that the total above-ground biomasses of the forest plot samples will exhibit the following relationship: SF < HF < POP < PDF.


  1. In the PDF, we used a randomization process to choose five 10x10m sites in the 52-hectare plot of Lambir National Park. In the HF, we used a randomization process to determine four 5x10m sites. We were forced to reduce our sample size due to the small size of the forest. In both the SF and the Oil Palm plantation, we used a randomization process to determine five 5x10m plot sites.
  2. We will clearly mark off each plot, then measure the circumference and height of all trees in the plots at least 4cm wide and at breast height (1.37m). We chose 4cm as the minimum circumference based on previous carbon measurements taken by Dawkins in 1961 (Whitmore 1984). We will measure dbh and then height with a clinometer of all the qualified trees and calculate volume.
  3. We will employ the same formula utilized by Dawkins in 1964 to compute the total total above-ground biomass: V=H x basal area x 0.5. We will then multiply our volume number in the PDF, SF and the HF sites by 1.1 to include the sampling and understory carbon (Whitmore 1984). We will not do this multiplication for the POP because there is no understory growth or uncounted trees.
  4. We will record all data from the sites and then use a general density estimate to calculate stored carbon per hectare for each of the forest types.


We will perform a series of t-tests to compare the amount of above-ground biomass in the each of the different forest plots to determine if there is a statistically significant difference in the amount of carbon stored between the four different . If there is a robust difference in the amount of carbon stored, then we can rank the forest types to infer which type is currently holding the most carbon. This will enable us to draw conclusions concerning the relative values of different land uses in terms of total above-ground carbon storage. If possible, we will connect our data back into the carbon credit issue. Theoretically, this is the first step in analyzing the different land use types to see which may be the most profitable for the local region. Once this accurate measure of carbon is made, later studies can begin to compare the value of the standing forests against the value of the palm-oil produced and the amount of carbon stored in the plantations.