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Panama REDD: Getting what you pay for
Date:10/4/2011

A new report by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Canada's McGill University identifies gaps in forest monitoring and ways to improve data collection. This will produce reliable estimates of greenhouse gas emission reductions from activities aimed at reducing deforestation.

Under a United Nations proposal to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, called REDD+, developing countries would be compensated according to their success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The importance of the REDD+ proposal is that it addresses the approximately 10-15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions created by deforestation.

Panama's abundant tropical biodiversity and the fact that more than 40 percent of the country is still forested makes Panama an ideal testing ground for conservation strategies that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, Panama was one of the first countries selected by the World Bank and the United Nations REDD+ initiative to receive funding.

"We wanted to know if readily available in-country monitoring techniques would be enough to demonstrate that emissions could be reduced by the REDD+ plans that United Nations delegates have been discussing since 2005," said Johanne Pelletier, doctoral candidate at McGill University and first author of the study. "We made a model for Panama to simulate land-cover change from 2000-2030 based on two maps and the available carbon stock information, and found that better monitoring will be needed to show that emission reductions are really taking place."

The best land-use maps available to the public from Panama's National Environmental Authority were maps produced in 1992 and 2000 using information about forest cover from Landsat satellites. Cloud cover often blocks the view of satellites. The STRI-McGill team found that the 1992 map was a composite of images from 1988 to 1992 and the 2000 map was based on images da
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Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
507-212-8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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