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Carbon Balance Manag. 2011 Dec 30;6:18. doi: 10.1186/1750-0680-6-18.

Historic emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Mato Grosso, Brazil: 1) source data uncertainties.

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1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt MD USA. douglas.morton@nasa.gov.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Historic carbon emissions are an important foundation for proposed efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks through conservation and sustainable forest management (REDD+). The level of uncertainty in historic carbon emissions estimates is also critical for REDD+, since high uncertainties could limit climate benefits from credited mitigation actions. Here, we analyzed source data uncertainties based on the range of available deforestation, forest degradation, and forest carbon stock estimates for the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso during 1990-2008.

RESULTS:

Deforestation estimates showed good agreement for multi-year periods of increasing and decreasing deforestation during the study period. However, annual deforestation rates differed by > 20% in more than half of the years between 1997-2008, even for products based on similar input data. Tier 2 estimates of average forest carbon stocks varied between 99-192 Mg C ha-1, with greatest differences in northwest Mato Grosso. Carbon stocks in deforested areas increased over the study period, yet this increasing trend in deforested biomass was smaller than the difference among carbon stock datasets for these areas.

CONCLUSIONS:

Estimates of source data uncertainties are essential for REDD+. Patterns of spatial and temporal disagreement among available data products provide a roadmap for future efforts to reduce source data uncertainties for estimates of historic forest carbon emissions. Specifically, regions with large discrepancies in available estimates of both deforestation and forest carbon stocks are priority areas for evaluating and improving existing estimates. Full carbon accounting for REDD+ will also require filling data gaps, including forest degradation and secondary forest, with annual data on all forest transitions.

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