Researchers develop first maps using Peru jungle to monitor carbon storage, emissions

Scientists from the US-based Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, the World Wildlife Fund and in cooperation with Peru’s Environment Ministry have developed high resolution maps that can be used for monitoring carbon storage and emissions.

Scientists studied 16,600 square miles of Peru’s Amazon in order to develop the maps, Carnegie said in a statement. They mapped vegetation types and disturbance by satellite; developed maps of 3-D vegetation structure using LiDAR system; converted the structural data into carbon density using a network of on-the-ground field plots; and then integrated the satellite and LiDAR data to create the maps of stored and emitted carbon.

To find out the emissions from 1999-2009 for Peru’s south-east Madre de Dios region, they combined historical deforestation and degradation data with 2009 carbon stock information.

“What really surprised us what how carbon storage differed among forest types and the underlying geology, all in very close proximity to one another,” said lead author Greg Asner.

“For instance, where the local geology is up to 60 million years old, the vegetation retains about 25% less carbon than the vegetation found on geologically younger, more fertile surfaces,” he added. “We also found an important interaction between geology, land use, and emissions. These are the first such patterns to emerge from the Amazon forest.”

In addition, the maps have shown that the Inter-Oceanic Highway, logging and gold mining, resulted in a 61 percent jump in deforestation emissions with degradation emissions doubling. They also found an 18 percent offset of the emissions where forests have regrown from previously cleared areas.

The maps are expected to have an important impact for carbon monitoring in tropical regions and could be used by the proposed United Nations initiative on Reduced Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

Previously there has been “a lack of accurate, high-resolution methods to account for changes in the carbon stored in vegetation and lost through deforestation, selective logging, and other land-use disturbances.”

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One Comment

  1. Excellent piece of information… But the summary skims the most important results of the study.

    Greg Asner and his socios have quantified the increase in Annual carbon emissions due to construction of the new highway. The deforestation and degradation of lands increased GHG emissions in 2009 by 1,464,000 tons of CO2.

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