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Forest carbon monitoring breakthrough in Colombia
Date:7/25/2012

Washington, D.C.Using new, highly efficient techniques, Carnegie and Colombian scientists have developed accurate high-resolution maps of the carbon stocks locked in tropical vegetation for 40% of the Colombian Amazon (165,000 square kilometers/64,000 square miles), an area about four times the size of Switzerland. Until now, the inability to accurately quantify carbon stocks at high spatial resolution over large areas has hindered the United Nations' Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, which is aimed at creating financial value for storing carbon in the forests of tropical countries. In addition to providing a key boost for implementing REDD+, the results from the Carnegie/Colombian partnership is a boon to tropical forest management and conservation.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Caldern remarked: "I am delighted to see these research results of the Carnegie Institution and our counterpart institutions working in the Colombian Amazon. We celebrate a true collaboration that not only advances science and human knowledge, but also builds our national scientific capacity. In a continuing partnership with Carnegie we aim at becoming world leaders in the use of state-of-the-art science and technology for environmental monitoring that can inform our decision making and planning efforts for managing and protecting our precious natural resources."

Many approaches have been pursued for estimating tropical forest carbon stores at different scales, but the estimates are usually too coarse for conserving, managing and reporting forest carbon changes at high spatial resolution. The vastly improved method presented here involves a rapid and cost-effective combination of airborne Light Detection and Ranging technology (LiDAR) and a satellite image analysis technology called CLASlite to produce carbon maps.

LiDAR, mounted on the fixed-wing Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), provides detailed 3-D
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Contact: Greg Asner
gpa@stanford.edu
650-462-1047
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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