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    Author(s): Gregory P. Asner; Sinan Sousan; David E. Knapp; Paul C. Selmants; Roberta E. Martin; R. Flint HughesChristian P. Giardina
    Date: 2016
    Source: Carbon Balance and Management. 11(1): 299
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (3.0 MB)


    Background: Spatially explicit forest carbon (C) monitoring aids conservation and climate change mitigation eforts, yet few approaches have been developed specifcally for the highly heterogeneous landscapes of oceanic island chains that continue to undergo rapid and extensive forest C change. We developed an approach for rapid mapping of aboveground C density (ACD; units = Mg or metric tons C ha−1) on islands at a spatial resolution of 30 m (0.09 ha) using a combination of cost-efective airborne LiDAR data and full-coverage satellite data. We used the approach to map forest ACD across the main Hawaiian Islands, comparing C stocks within and among islands, in protected and unprotected areas, and among forests dominated by native and invasive species.

    Results: Total forest aboveground C stock of the Hawaiian Islands was 36 Tg, and ACD distributions were extremely heterogeneous both within and across islands. Remotely sensed ACD was validated against U.S. Forest Service FIA plot inventory data (R2 = 0.67; RMSE = 30.4 Mg C ha−1). Geospatial analyses indicated the critical importance of forest type and canopy cover as predictors of mapped ACD patterns. Protection status was a strong determinant of forest C stock and density, but we found complex environmentally mediated responses of forest ACD to alien plant invasion.

    Conclusions: A combination of one-time airborne LiDAR data acquisition and satellite monitoring provides efective forest C mapping in the highly heterogeneous landscapes of the Hawaiian Islands. Our statistical approach yielded key insights into the drivers of ACD variation, and also makes possible future assessments of C storage change, derived on a repeat basis from free satellite data, without the need for additional LiDAR data. Changes in C stocks and densities of oceanic islands can thus be continually assessed in the face of rapid environmental changes such as biological invasions, drought, fre and land use. Such forest monitoring information can be used to promote sustainable forest use and conservation on islands in the future.

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    Asner, Gregory P.; Sousan, Sinan; Knapp, David E.; Selmants, Paul C.; Martin, Roberta E.; Hughes, R. Flint; Giardina, Christian P. 2016. Rapid forest carbon assessments of oceanic islands: a case study of the Hawaiian archipelago. Carbon Balance and Management. 11(1): 299.


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    Carbon stocks, Carnegie Airborne Observatory, Forest inventory, Invasive species, LiDAR, Random Forest Machine Learning

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