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    Author(s): Danielle Rappaport; Douglas Morton; Marcos Longo; Michael Keller; Ralph Dubayah; Maiza Nara. dos-Santos
    Date: 2018
    Source: Environmental Research Letters
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    PDF: View PDF  (2.0 MB)

    Description

    Despite sustained declines in Amazon deforestation, forest degradation from logging and fire continues to threaten carbon stocks, habitat, and biodiversity in frontier forests along the Amazon arc of deforestation. Limited data on the magnitude of carbon losses and rates of carbon recovery following forest degradation have hindered carbon accounting efforts and contributed to incomplete national reporting to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). We combined annual time series of Landsat imagery and high-density airborne lidar data to characterize the variability, magnitude, and persistence of Amazon forest degradation impacts on aboveground carbon density (ACD) and canopy structure. On average, degraded forests contained 45.1% of the carbon stocks in intact forests, and differences persisted even after 15 years of regrowth. In comparison to logging, understory fires resulted in the largest and longest-lasting differences in ACD. Heterogeneity in burned forest structure varied by fire severity and frequency. Forests with a history of one, two, and three or more fires retained only 54.4%, 25.2%, and 7.6% of intact ACD, respectively, when measured after a year of regrowth. Unlike the additive impact of successive fires, selective logging before burning did not explain additional variability in modeled ACD loss and recovery of burned forests. Airborne lidar also provides quantitative measures of habitat structure that can aid the estimation of co-benefits of avoided degradation. Notably, forest carbon stocks recovered faster than attributes of canopy structure that are critical for biodiversity in tropical forests, including the abundance of tall trees.We provide the first comprehensive look-up table of emissions factors for specific degradation pathways at standard reporting intervals in the Amazon. Estimated carbon loss and recovery trajectories provide an important foundation for assessing the long-term contributions from forest degradation to regional carbon cycling and advance our understanding of the current state of frontier forests.

    Publication Notes

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Rappaport, Danielle I.; Morton, Douglas C.; Longo, Marcos; Keller, Michael; Dubayah, Ralph; dos-Santos, Maiza Nara. 2018. Quantifying long-term changes in carbon stocks and forest structure from Amazon forest degradation. Environmental Research Letters. 13(6): 065013. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aac331.

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    Keywords

    aboveground biomass, forest structure, habitat, understory fires, carbon cycling, airborne lidar, REDD+

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/56962