The Terrestrial Carbon Initiative (TCI) is aimed to have a better understanding of the regional and global cycles of carbon, the distribution of sinks and sources, their seasonal and annual dynamics and the interactions of the various ecosystems and between the ecosystems and the atmosphere. The study requires further research and large scale observations where space borne and in situ measurements have to be analyzed in an integrated manner. Main variables to be observed include status and dynamics of land cover, canopy structure of vegetation, plant nutrition status and biogeochemistry, Leaf Area Index, Net Primary Productivity, atmospheric CO2 concentration, meteorological and other data.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends coordinating regional and subregional research on carbon sequestration.
A report analyzed the performance of alternative incentive designs and payment levels if US farmers were paid to adopt land uses and management practices that raise soil carbon levels. At payment levels below $10 per metric ton for permanently sequestered carbon, the model predicts landowners would find it cost-effective to adopt changes in rotations and tillage practices, but none of the potential land use changes. At higher payment levels, afforestation dominates sequestration activities, mostly through conversion of pastureland. The model predicted converting cropland to grassland was not competitive up through a $125 carbon price, in part because conversion to afforestation (where feasible) was more profitable - with its higher sequestration rate per acre. A 50-percent cost-share for cropland conversion to forestry or grasslands would increase sequestration at low carbon payment levels but not at high payment levels.