Title: Tropical deforestation drivers and associated carbon emission factors derived from remote sensing data
Citation: ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS vol. 14 no. 9 p. 094022
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC112033
ISSN: 1748-9326 (online)
URI: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab3dc6
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab3dc6
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing carbon stocks (REDD+) is a crucial component of global climate change mitigation. Systematically measuring, reporting and verifying forest carbon emissions and removals is essential. Remote sensing combined with field measurements can provide continuous and spatially explicit aboveground biomass (AGB) estimates, which can be valuable for the analysis and quantification of carbon stocks and emission factors (EFs). Unfortunately, there is little information on the fate of the land following tropical deforestation and of the associated carbon stock. This study assessed carbon EFs in a spatially explicit manner across the tropics by capitalising on newly available remote sensing data on land use following deforestation, AGB density and tree cover with high spatial resolutions. In Latin America, pasture was the most common post-deforestation land use (72%), with large-scale cropland (11%) a distant second. In Africa deforestation was often followed by small-scale cropping (61%) with a smaller role for pasture (15%). In Asia, small-scale cropland was the dominant agricultural follow-up land use (35%), closely followed by tree crops (28%). EFs showed high spatial variation within eco-zones and countries. Eco-zone averaged forest carbon stocks often did not accurately represent carbon stocks of the specific forests that have undergone change. EFs for specific land use conversions were mostly dependent on the location of the land use conversion in combination with initial forest biomass. The estimates of the fraction of carbon lost were more robust, which might offer some shortcuts for REDD+ countries in generating local EFs from forest inventory data or good quality biomass maps. Our approach yields considerable progress towards better quantification of carbon fluxes from deforestation, and gives added insight into their link to human activities.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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