REDD Abacus SP

REDD Abacus SP is a public domain software developed by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) to:

  • Estimate emission from land use and land cover changes allowing for dynamic heterogeneity of soil types, elevations, climate and other biophysical characteristics in the landscapes
  • Analyze trade-offs between emissions and financial gain (opportunity cost analysis) and produce abatement cost curves Project ex-ante emissions and financial gain of business-as-usual scenarios for setting Reference Emission Level (REL)
  • Simulate zone-specific policies and other emission reduction scenarios within the landscapes, and estimate the potential emission reductions and opportunity costs of them

REDD Abacus SP can serve as a main tool in:

  • Developing land use plan for low emission development strategies at the province or district level
  • Assessing carbon efficiency of a large scale land-based enterprise
  • Estimating abatement cost of emissions from land use/cover changes at a regional level
The Basic Methods For Estimating Opportunity Cost

Opportunity costs refer to the potential economic gains that could be made if certain types of land use change are not happening, e.g. as part of an emission reduction program. If the opportunity costs are low relative to the amount of emission reduction that can be achieved by avoiding this category of land use change, it may be of interest to stakeholders of emission reduction to offset the opportunity costs and make contracts that secure that the carbon remains stored. The difference in economic value ($/ha), per unit avoidable emission (tCO2e/ha) takes the dimensions of a price ($/tCO2e). If the economic value of emission reduction elsewhere (e.g. on a virtual 'carbon market') is higher than the opportunity costs of avoiding emissions in a certain landscape, it may be financially attractive for all parties to develop contracts that ensure local emission reduction. Several other elements of price (implementation and monitoring plus transaction costs) also play a role, but if opportunity costs are higher than going market prices, discussions of economic incentives for voluntary emission reduction will be a non-starter.Abatement Cost Curve

Opportunity cost curves indicate how much emission reduction might be feasible at what price. The basis for their constructing is [1] The differences in economic value ($/ha) and [2] Time-averaged C stock (t C/ha) of any type of [3] land use change. The land use change may have occurred (if the opportunity cost is a retrospective analysis of recent history) or is deemed plausible in a forward looking scenario of land use change.

REDD Abacus was developed to analyze the opportunity cost of land use changes in a landscape or area within a period of time and generate the abatement cost curve using
  1. A legend that represents land use change from the perspective of economic ('land use) as well as carbon storage ('land cover') perspectives, and that allows land use change data to be compiled by a combination of land cover change detection and economic constraints (e.g. labour requirements in relation to human population density)
  2. Typical carbon stock data for each legend unit
  3. Net Present Value for each land use type, typically using a private (= farm gate) accounting stance  and/or a social (= national economy) one
  4. A matrix of land use change values, that are internally consistent and represents either historical change or a forward looking scenario.

With these inputs, the program performs four steps (see the diagram):

  1. Convert differences in carbon stocks into estimated emissions.
  2. Construct a table of opportunity costs for every type of land use change from the differences in NPV and C stocks
  3. Determine the actual emissions for each cell in the matrix from the area involved and the emissions per unit area
  4. Present the cumulative emission total after sorting by opportunity cost

Together these four steps lead to a two-dimensional graph charting the opportunity costs of avoiding deforesting land-use changes against volume of carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions.
opportunity cost estimation diagram
Steps in deriving an opportunity cost (OpCost) curve that relates the changes in economic profitability (net present value) and typical carbon stocks of land-use (LU) systems, to a land-use change matrix that describes the changes that have occurred (for a retrospective OpCost curve) or might occur (for a scenario OpCost curve).

As indication of a feasible level of economic incentives, a price level of USD 5/tCO2e, is used as default leaving some space for transaction and implementation costs. The user can easily adjust this price level and evaluate the consequences. 

(see the REDD Abacus SP - User Manual for more information about the software)

Current Version: 1.2.1 (release oct2015)

What's New:

  • New GUI modules, with full of dynamic chart
  • Multiple scenario design in one project file
  • Dynamically preview the changes of modified scenario with the baseline scenario

Full Setup

Include Java virtual machine (JVM)

Click here to download (28 MB)

If you have problems on uninstalling the older version of Abacus (ver 1.0.x), you can try to download the Abacus uninstaller batch script here ( extract the file and run it (double click on the extracted file)



  • You need to install a Java 1.6.0 (or later) virtual machine. You can download one from Java website or contact your OS manufacturer.
  • After downloading, extract the file
  • Open a shell and,  cd to the application folder.
  • At the prompt type:  sh

Click here to download (Linux binary, 3 mb)



  • After downloading, extract the file, double-click "REDD Abacus SP"
  • Requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later
  • The compressed installer should be recognized by Stuffit Expander and should automatically be expanded after downloading.If it is not expanded, you can expand it manually using StuffIt Expander 6.0 or later.
  • If you have any problems launching the installer once it has been expanded, make sure that the compressed installer was expanded using Stuffit Expander. If you continue to have problems, please contact technical support.

Click here to download (Mac OS binary, 3 mb)


Project Example

The sample file above is a dummy data used for testing the software.
Later we will share project sample from some actual cases, including its documentation.

Please contact if you are willing to help on developing the language packs for other languages.




Other Links

REDD Abacus SP at

File list at