July 26, 2012

64,000 sq km of Colombian rainforest mapped in stunning detail using lasers, satellites

 Forest carbon map of the study area in Colombia. Courtesy of Asner et al 2012

Colombian president welcomes country’s first high resolution carbon map

(July 26, 2012)  Scientists have created high-resolution carbon maps for 165,000 square kilometers (64,000 square miles) of forest across roughly 40 percent of the Colombian Amazon, greatly boosting the ability of the South American nation to measure emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, reports the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, which led the effort.

The research, which is described in the journal Biogeosciences, used a combination of satellite data and advanced airplane-based sensors to assess the carbon content of the remote region, which is about four times the size of Switzerland. On-the-ground field studies in the area are difficult due to lack of navigable rivers and security concerns.

The study area has been designated as a REDD+ pilot project area by the Colombian Institute for Hydrological, Meteorological, and Environmental Studies (IDEAM). REDD+ is a program that aims to compensate developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; worldwide such emissions accounted for 10-13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions between 2000 and 2005. For its part, Colombia hopes to capitalize on REDD+ as a means to finance conservation of its extensive forests, which generate important services for the country.