Mapping aids preservation of tropical carbon stocks

Mapping aids preservation of tropical carbon stocks

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Peru, November 11, 2014: A team of researchers from Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) recently developed a new approach for prioritising carbon conservation efforts throughout tropical countries.

Using 3D forest mapping data provided by the CAO and integrating it with satellite imaging data, the team was able to create a map of carbon density throughout the 128 million hectare (320 million acre) country of Peru, at a resolution of one hectare (2.5 acres).

“Research is necessary to determine the exact state of our forests,” stated Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s Minister of Environment, “For that, the Carnegie Institution, with the support of the Peruvian Environment Ministry, has developed the first high-resolution map of Peru’s carbon stocks. This new map provides the evidence needed to start negotiating in the carbon market at a bigger scale. Our government is also studying carbon stocks in the soil, and is doing a forest inventory, and we have a forest investment program. These initiatives will better prepare us to face changes in land use.”

The team of authors emphasised that the low cost of conducting their project means that the same approach can be rapidly implemented in any country, thereby supporting both national and international commitments to reduce and offset carbon emissions.

The researchers also found that tropical deforestation and forest degradation account for about 10% of the world’s carbon emissions annually. Tropical forests convert more carbon from the atmosphere into biomass than any other terrestrial ecosystem on Earth. However, when land is used for agriculture, as a wood source, or for mining, carbon is often released into the atmosphere where it contributes to climate change.

This study was conducted under an inter-institutional working agreement between the Carnegie Department of Global Ecology and the Dirección General de Ordenamiento Territorial, Peruvian Ministry of the Environment. The study was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Source: Carnegie Airborne Observatory