Mangroves ‘won’t stop tsunami’


Claims that coastal tree barriers can halt the might of a tsunami are false and dangerous, says a team of international marine scientists.

There are many reasons for preserving the world’s dwindling stocks of mangroves but protecting people from tsunamis is not one of them, they added.

Four year on from the devastating 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, which killed more than 250,000 people, the team of scientists issued a strong warning against coastal communities and governments putting their trust in mangrove and tree barriers.

“Following the Boxing Day tsunami, scientific studies were released which claimed that the damage to coastal communities had been less in places where there was a barrier of trees or coastal vegetation,” explained Dr Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.

“As a result, there has been a lot of tree planting in coastal areas affected by the tsunami in the hope it will protect coastal communities in future from such events,” he observed.

“However these studies looked only at the presence or absence of vegetation and the extent of damage – and did not take account of other important variables, like the distance of a village from the shore, the height of the village above sea level or the shape of the seabed in concentrating the tsunami’s power.”

The study by Dr Baird’s team concluded that there was, as yet, no evidence that coastal tree belts could provide meaningful protection against a tsunami or even storm surges produced by cyclones, such as the surge that followed Cyclone Nargis in Burma earlier this year, which killed more than 150,000 people.

As a result it would be extremely dangerous to rely on tree planting alone to shield coastal communities in the event of future tsunami or storm surges, they warned.

The findings will be published shortly in a report by the United Nations Environment Programme.

Source: Australian Research Council press release

Date: 26/12/2008

Twiglet: Holly


The holly, as a rule, blooms in May; male and female flowers are usually found on different trees; only female flowers go on to become berries, but only if pollenated by male trees/flowers.

Superstition: prickly leaves are known as “he holly”; smooth leaves as “she holly”. Whichever first comes into your house in New Year determines who rules house for coming 12 months.

(Twiglets are an occasional lighter, bite-sized look at trees)

Carbon trading ‘not enough to save rainforests’


Including carbon emissions from tropical deforestation in a future international climate regime will not suffice to protect the world’s remaining tropical forests from expanding palm oil plantations, according to a study by researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

Delegates at the recent UN climate summit in Poznan, Poland, reduced emissions from deforestation (REDD) was one of the top issues, and hopes were high that a climate protocol could help reduce deforestation in the tropics in the future.

Carbon dioxide emissions from tropical deforestation at present account for around 20% of total global emissions, on a par with emissions from the transport sector.

Currently, there are no incentives for tropical countries to reduce these emissions, although this could change if the emissions are included in a future climate protocol.

“It is argued that this would make forest clearance unprofitable and tropical countries would choose to preserve more of their remaining forests,” said study author Martin Persson.

“However, a carbon price will also increase the demand for bioenergy and make forest clearance for agricultural land more profitable,” he added.

The researcher said clearing tropical forests for palm oil plantations, producing both liquid and solid biofuels, will remain highly profitable even when faced with a price on the carbon emissions arising from deforestation.

The current efforts to include tropical deforestation in a future climate regime may therefore not be sufficient to protect the world’s tropical forests, he suggested.

The expansion of palm oil plantations is already an important driving force behind deforestation in South-East Asia, although the proportion of palm oil that goes into biodiesel production is still small.

In addition, with increasing profitability, there is a risk that palm oil plantations will also start to expand in the Amazon and Congo basins, areas with a large share of the world’s remaining tropical forests.

“These results should not be taken as an argument for keeping tropical deforestation out of a future international climate regime,” observed Mr Persson.

“That would only make matters worse. But it implies that in addition to a price on the carbon emissions from deforestation, other and stronger protection measures will still be needed.”

Source: Chalmers University of Technology press release

Date: 09/12/2008

Forests face fiery future, warn UK’s Met Office


Climate change is putting further pressure on forests, with less rain and increased drought leading to increased risk from fire, the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre has warned.

Deforestation is already a major cause of carbon emissions, it warns, and is currently estimated to exceed those from the global transport sector.

Hadley Centre scientists attending the UN climate conference in Poznan claimed that new estimates of future deforestation in critical regions, such as the Amazon, were much larger than those used by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

With no controls on deforestation, the area of forest lost could be five times greater than outlined in the IPCC’s Special Report Emissions Scenarios (SRES).

The researchers warned that even with effective governance the loss could be double.

Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate advice at the Met Office, said: “In addition to man-made deforestation, climate change may cause the ‘die-back’ of the Amazonian forest.

“However, deliberate deforestation in Amazonia is likely to have a bigger impact in the short term.”

Climate scientists are assessing the potential impacts of ongoing deforestation on climate change and the extent to which reducing deforestation could contribute to stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations.

By avoiding deforestation during the early part of this century, carbon emissions would be reduced by up to 27 gigatonnes by 2050.

In a double benefit, preservation of the forest would maintain a carbon sink from carbon dioxide fertilisation of photosynthesis, which is worth a further four gigatonnes by 2050.

Climate change is also expected to put further pressure on forests, the UK researchers warn.

They said that in previous droughts, such as 2005, fires used for forest clearance became uncontrolled and larger areas were burnt through this “fire leakage”.

Climate change is also likely to reduce rainfall in the region.

The researchers suggest that even if this does not directly damage plants, it is likely to increase the risk of fire leakage which would magnify the impact of deforestation.

Source: UK Met Office press release

Date: 10/12/2008

Invasive shrub blamed for Yemen floods


Agricultural experts and local communities in southern Yemen are urging the government to tackle an evergreen and fast-growing shrub that has been blocking waterways, with sometimes devastating consequences.

They say mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) is responsible for exacerbating flooding in October by blocking watercourses and diverting floodwater into villages, which might otherwise have been unscathed.

At least 90 people were killed, and 20,000-25,000 were left homeless by the floods, according to the UN IRIN news service.

Mesquite, which was introduced to Yemen several decades ago to combat desertification and stabilise sand dunes, is native to the Americas, tolerates harsh, arid, saline conditions, and has spread throughout arable parts of the Hadramaut province.

The shrub has recently colonised many uncultivated hectares of land in Yemen’s coastal and eastern desert areas, with animals responsible for the spread; the seeds are mainly disseminated in animal droppings.

When left unmanaged the shrub can form dense impassable thickets, particularly where land has been degraded or overgrazed, say agricultural experts. It also invades cultivated fields and irrigated farms.

Source: IRIN news

Date: 08/12/2008

A slow start to saving trees in Zambia


After years of extensive flooding and droughts, Zambians are gradually turning to greener energy technologies to save trees, which could slow the impact of climate change, according to a UN news feature.

Charcoal-fed braziers are being replaced by those burning briquettes made of treated coal waste, which are smokeless and emit low levels of sulphur dioxide gas.

Biogas – a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by fermenting organic matter like animal or human waste, biodegradable waste and municipal solid waste – is also being punted as alternatives to wood fuel.

“Traditional energy sources, especially wood fuel, cause deforestation and serious ecological and environmental degradation in the country,” said Alick Muvundika, head of the water, energy and environment programme at the government-run National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR).

Zambia is listed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as one of the top 10 countries with the highest annual deforestation rates. The FAO estimates that Zambia loses about 8,000 hectares of forest every year.

Most of the trees are used as firewood or for producing charcoal, while in many rural areas they are cut and burnt to ash, which is used to improve soil fertility on subsistence farms.

Greener alternatives like the coal briquettes have been available in Zambia since the 1990s, but there have been few takers.

Nasri Safieddine, who designs energy-saving traditional cookers, said there had been little political will to promote these technologies until recently.

Power cuts and the price of charcoal are now prompting urban Zambians to explore the greener energy alternatives, said Mr Muvundika.

A 10kg bag of coal briquettes costs about US$1.50, while Zambians have to shell out US$5 for the same amount of charcoal, and 1.3kg of coal briquettes can burn for six hours, while the same weight of charcoal will burn for only one and a half hours.

Experts say the effects of climate change are most severe in areas where the trees have been cut down.

In Zambia’s Southern Province, which suffered one of the highest and fastest deforestation rates in the 1990s, floods and droughts have become perennial, causing failed harvests and chronic hunger, while other parts of the country have been experiencing shorter rainy seasons with colder winters and warmer summers.

Trees draw ground water up through their roots and release it into the atmosphere, so removing the forests could lead to a drier climate in the region.

Slash-and-burn deforestation also affects the carbon cycle, warming up the atmosphere, and is estimated to be responsible for 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon emissions every year, amounting to one-fifth of the global total.

Joseph Kanyanga, chief meteorologist at the Zambia Meteorological Department, said the country had experienced significant changes in temperature and rainfall patterns over the last 40 years.

“[There have been more] floods than dry spells, especially in recent years, and this is a signal of climatic change in our weather patterns,” he told the UN’s IRIN news service.

“It means that Zambia needs to adjust to environmentally friendly ways of living to avoid such effects as outbreaks of diseases, crop failure, floods and other consequences,” Mr Kanyanga added.

Source: IRIN news service

Date: 03/12/2008

Hackers ‘aid’ Amazon logging scam


Hackers have helped logging firms in Brazil evade limits on tree felling, says a Greenpeace report.

The hi-tech criminals penetrated a computer system designed to monitor logging in the Brazilian state of Para, according to a report on the BBC News website.

Once inside the system, hackers issued fake permits so loggers could cut down far more timber than environmental officials were prepared to allow.

Greenpeace estimates that 1.7m cubic metres of illegal timber may have been removed with the aid of the hackers.

Drawing on information released by Brazilian federal prosecutor Daniel Avelino, Greenpeace believes hackers were employed by 107 logging and charcoal companies.

“Almost half of the companies involved in this scam have other law suits pending for environmental crimes or the use of slave labour,” said Mr Avelino in a statement issued by Greenpeace.

Mr Avelino is suing the companies behind the mass hack attack for two billion reals (£564m) – the estimated value of the timber illegally sold.

The Brazilian investigation of the hackers began in April 2007 and more than 30 ring leaders were arrested during the summer of that year. The ongoing investigation means that now 202 people face charges for their involvement in the subversion of the logging system.

The hack was made possible by a decision in 2006 to do away with paper forms to help monitor whether logging and charcoal firms were keeping to the quotas they were set.

Instead, the Amazon state of Para turned to a fully-computerised system that issued travel permits for the timber logging firms were removing. The intent was that travel permits would stop being issuedonce logging companies had reached their annual quota.

With the help of the hackers, Brazilian logging firms were able to issue fake permits allowing them to bust through these caps.

“We’ve pointed out before that this method of controlling the transport of timber was subject to fraud,” said Andre Muggiati, Greenpeace campaigner in Manaus. “And this is only the tip of the iceberg, because the same computer system is also used in two other Brazilian states.”

Source: BBC News website

Date: 15/12/2008

UK and Indonesia sign climate pact


The UK and Indonesian governments have signed a deal to establish a working group focusing on climate change and the environment, a press release from the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change has announced.

The group aims to improve forest conservation, develop renewable energy sources, promote energy efficiency measures, as well as working with communities to help them adapt to the consequences of climate change.

UK Energy Minister Ed Miliband welcomed the agreement saying: “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our world and we are the generation who must take action.

“We can only succeed if all nations work together – our governments, business networks and communities,” he told reporters.

“The UK and Indonesia have much to learn from one another; about the circumstances we have to deal with, the opportunities available to us and the solutions that could help both countries do our bit to tackle climate change.”

The working group will provide a framework for consultation and co-operation on a number of areas including:

  • Identify opportunities for developing activities on land use, land-use change and forestry and implementing demonstration activities under REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) as set out under the UNFCCC
  • Promote sustainable management of palm oil production, including through engagement with the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil and other relevant stakeholders
  • Provide technical assistance on climate risks and adaptation strategies with a view to develop local adaptation strategies
  • Explore opportunities for cooperation on development, deployment, diffusion, and transfer of sustainable low carbon technologies, particularly on renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies

Source: Department for Energy and Climate Change press release

Date: 12/12/2008

Ozone pollution ‘to reduce tree growth by 10%’


Concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution are decreasing the growth of trees in the northern and temperate mid-latitudes, a study has revealed.

Tree growth, measured in biomass, is already 7% less than the late 1800s, and this is set to increase to a 17% reduction by the end of the century, according to a paper published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Ozone pollution is four times greater now than pre-industrial times, and if modern dependence on fossil fuels continues at the current pace, future ozone concentrations will be at least double current levels by the end of this century with the capacity to further decrease the growth of trees.

The study is the first statistical summary of individual experimental measurements of how ozone will damage the productivity of trees, including data from 263 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Ozone is the third strongest greenhouse gas, directly contributing to global warming. It is also the air pollutant considered to be the most damaging to plants.

But more importantly, it has the potential to leave more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by decreasing carbon assimilation in trees.

Ozone pollution occurs when nitrogen oxides have a photochemical reaction with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

“This research quantifies the mean response of trees to ozone pollution measured in terms of total tree biomass, and all component parts such as leaf, root and shoot, lost due to ozone pollution,” said lead author Victoria Wittig, from the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Illinois.

“Looking at how ozone pollution affects trees is important because of the indirect impact on carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere which will further enhance global warming, in addition to ozone’s already potent direct impact,” Dr Wittig explained.

In addition to ozone pollution reducing the strength of trees to hold carbon in the northern temperate mid-latitudes by reducing tree growth, the research also indicates that broad-leaf trees, such as poplars, are more sensitive to ozone pollution than conifers, such as pines, and that root growth is suppressed more than above ground growth.

“Beyond the consequences for global warming, the study also infers that in mixed forests conifers will be favoured over broad-leaved trees, and that the decrease in root size will increase the vulnerability to storms,” said Dr Wittig.

Source: Global Change Biology press release

Date: 10/12/2008

Tree remains offer clues to past climate


A shrinking glacier in northern Sweden has revealed remains of trees believed to be at least 7,000 years old, a team from the Swedish Research Council reports.

The researchers say the remains of the trees – found beneath the Karsa Glacier, west of Abisko, Lapland – are evidence that the past century has been the warmest for at least seven thousand years.

“If the area hadn’t been covered by a glacier all these thousands of years, these tree remnants would never have made it,” said project leader Leif Kullman.

“The finds yield information indicating that the 20th Century was probably the warmest century in 7,000 years.

“The fact that the climate is so unique during the last century means that we must question whether this could be 100% the result of natural mechanisms,” said Professor Kullman.

Carbon dating shows that pines and birches grew on the site of the glacier during parts of or perhaps the entire period between 11,800 and 7,000 years ago.

The team examined parts of birch and pine trunks in four locations that had been uncovered as the glacier in the Lapland mountains retreated.

The researchers added that the remnants were very well preserved in most cases, but were degrading rapidly as they came in contact with air and water.

The team says that the oldest tree, a pine, lived and died on the site of the Karsa glacier about 12,000 years ago.

The location of the pine is 400-450 metres above today’s tree-line.

Professor Kullman said the discovery placed the thawing of ice at the end of the latest ice age in an entirely new perspective.

“Previous research indicated that Lapland was covered with ice at this time,” he said.

“These findings show that the ice melted and life returned much earlier than we previously thought.”

The researchers are now continuing their examination of glaciers in northern Lapland and Vosterbotten (West Bothnia).

This ongoing research is part of a larger project that comprises glaciers throughout the entire range of mountains in Sweden.

Source: Swedish Research Council press release

Date: 04/12/2008

Brazil announces 70% cut in deforestation


Brazil has announced a plan to reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon region by 70% over the next 10 years, the BBC News website reports.

The plan follows a call for international funding to prevent further loss of the Amazon rainforest.

This year, the rate of Amazon deforestation increased after falling for the past four years.

The new initiative by the Brazilians came as the UN’s latest round of climate talks began in the Polish city of Poznan.

Tasso Azevedo, head of the Brazilian government’s forestry service, said: “We can now adopt targets because we now have the instruments to implement them.”

He was referring to a new Amazon fund, where foreign nations are being encouraged by Brazil to contribute financially to the conservation of the vast Amazon region.

Last month, Norway announced its intention to support the fund, saying it will give $130m (euros 103m; £88m) next year, the first instalment of $1bn to be given over the next seven years.

However, Norway will only make each year’s donation on the condition that there has been a reduction in deforestation during the previous year.

The 70% figure is based up on averaging levels of deforestation in the 10 years up to 2005.

The new plan aims to see a reduction in deforestation of nearly 6,000 sq.km. per year, or about half the current annual rate of deforestation.

A crackdown on illegal settlements and increased policing in the Amazon region came earlier this year, following an estimated 3.8% increase in deforestation compared with the previous year.

Burning of the forests has contributed to increases in global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, but Brazil’s Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the initiative showed the country was committed to reducing global emissions.

“Just in terms of avoided deforestation in the Amazon, the plan foresees a reduction of 4.8bn tons of carbon dioxide that won’t be emitted up to 2018 – which is more than the reduction efforts fixed by all the rich countries,” he said.

But environmental campaigners have said more needs to be done.

“The biggest Brazilian contribution to the fight against climate change is to bring deforestation to an end in the Amazon,” said Sergio Leitao, Greenpeace director of public politics in Brazil.

“In adopting timid targets the government is showing that it is going in the right direction, but at the wrong speed, because the problem requires urgent solutions,” he told the BBC.

“By connecting the reduction of deforestation to obtaining international resources, in a moment of economic crisis, the government has an argument ready for not achieving targets in the future,” Mr Leitao said.

Source: BBC News website

Date: 02/12/2008

Peru aims for zero deforestation


The Peruvian government says it can reach zero deforestation in just 10 years with the help of funds from Western governments, the BBC News website reports.

It is taking its ambitious proposal to the latest round of UN talks on climate change, which are taking place in Poznan, Poland.

The government claims more than 80% of Peru’s primary forests can be saved or protected.

Peru has the fourth largest area of tropical forest in the world after Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia.

The South American nation has about 70 million hectares of tropical forest, covering nearly 60% of its territory.

“We are not a poor country going to the Poznan meeting begging for aid,” Environment Minister Antonio Brack told the BBC.

“We are an important country with a large area of forest that has a value.”

Mr Brack says his ministry has calculated that Peru needs about $25m (£17m) a year for the next 10 years to be able to save or conserve initially at least 54 million hectares of forest, which could rise to 60 million.

He says the Peruvian government has already committed $5m-a-year, and he is looking for $20m-a-year from the international community.

“This is Peru’s contribution to mitigating climate change,” he said.

Government figures for Amazonian deforestation suggest 150,000 hectares were cut down in Peru in 2005, although other organisations put the average figure in recent years higher at around 250,000 hectares annually.

This is much less than Brazil, for example, which released figures last week showing an annual rate of forest cover being lost of nearly 12 million hectares.

Tropical deforestation is estimated to be responsible for about 18% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Peru contributes less than 1% of the world’s emissions, but according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), about half of Peru’s GHG emissions are due to deforestation.

Mr Brack says the 54 million hectares Peru is aiming to protect or conserve is divided into four different categories:

  • 17 million hectares of national parks which are already in existence
  • 12 million for Peru’s 42 indigenous groups, totalling 350,000 people
  • 21 million for sustainable forestry development
  • 5 million for eco-tourism

The minister says Germany has already committed 4m euros ($5m, £3.5m) to the first option, while Holland is interested in funding the protection of the forest for indigenous groups.

He is also hoping for funds from Finland, Great Britain and Japan.

Source: BBC News website

Date: 07/12/2008

Forests and farms ‘can fight climate change’


The problem of global warming from greenhouse gases calls for a stronger involvement of agriculture and farming communities, as well as forestry and forest users in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.

“Agriculture and deforestation are major contributors to climate change, but by the same token farmers and forest users could become key players in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said FAO assistant directo-general Alexander Muller.

“Unlocking the potential of agriculture and forestry for climate change mitigation requires financing mechanisms targeting farmers and foresters around the globe, particularly small-scale land-users in developing countries,” he added.

“These mechanisms should give priority to emission-reducing measures that have ‘co-benefits’ for food and energy security, poverty reduction, sustainable use of natural resources. Forestry and agriculture offer many opportunities for such ‘win-win’ measures.

According to the FAO, greenhouse gas emissions from forestry and agriculture contribute more than 30% of the current annual total emissions (deforestation and forest degradation accounts for 17.4%, while agriculture is responsible for 13.5%).

When looking at methane, the FAO says that agriculture is responsible for half of the annual emissions (primarily through livestock and rice), and more that 75% of nitrous oxide (largely from fertiliser application) emitted annually by human activities.

“Climate change will affect the lives and livelihoods of farmers, fishers and forest users in developing countries, many of whom are already facing difficulties in earning a sufficient income and feeding their families,” Mr Muller continued.

Rural communities, particularly those living in already environmentally fragile areas, face an immediate and ever-growing risk of increased crop failure, loss of livestock, and reduced availability of marine, aquaculture and forest products.

Humans, plants, livestock and fish also face the risk of being exposed to new pests and diseases.

Mr Muller concluded that climate change had the potential to increase hunger, particularly in the world’s poorest nations.

“We have to act now if we want to avoid a humanitarian disaster,” he said.

Roughly 40% of the land biomass is directly or indirectly managed by farmers, foresters or herders.

He added: “The international community can only win the global battle against climate change if we succeed in mobilizing the potential of these land users to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and in sequestering carbon in soil and plants.

“We have to adapt to climate changes that are of greater intensity and rapidity than in the past.”

Source: FAO press release

Date: 04/12/2008

REDD debate heats up at UN climate summit


The topic of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation (REDD) is shaping up to be one of the most prominent features of this year’s UN climate summit, according to the IUCN.

REDD discussions are not only attracting a lot of attention and interest, they are also progressing rapidly at the UNFCCC‘s COP-14, being held in Poznan, Poland.

After just a few days of initial discussion, Parties are already outlining the main components of a draft decision to be adopted by the conference. Nevertheless, significant hurdles still stand in the way of a general consensus on REDD.

The debate surrounding what scenario should be used as a reference for measuring and rewarding emission reductions is one of the main unresolved debates.

Concerns related to species conservation and local livelihoods are consistently raised by Parties, although it is still difficult to gauge how they will be incorporated into a draft decision text.

“It seems as if the REDD train has reached full speed here in Poznan,” said David Huberman, a programme associate for IUCN.

“It is encouraging to see that the many people on board seem quite optimistic about where the discussions are headed, but there still is a lot of ground to cover – both here in Poznan and beyond.”

IUCN hopes to see the blockages that threatens to undermine a meaningful agreement on fighting climate change cast aside, especially given the recent US election outcome.

It says that climate change is already affecting people and nature, adding that there is an urgent need to reach agreement on an international climate change framework by 2009, in preparation for the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.

At the last UN summit in Bali, the negotiations reached a deadlock, crystallizing the debate on the issue of equity between developed and developing countries.

Success in Poznan is key to reaching the agreement the world needs in Copenhagen next year.

Source: IUCN press release

Date: 06/12/2008

Canopy penetrating system boosts forest carbon monitoring


A tool for monitoring tropical deforestation has gotten a boost from the one of the world’s largest supporters of Amazon conservation, reports Mongabay.com.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded a $1.6m grant to the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology to expand and improve its tropical forest monitoring tool known as the Carnegie Landsat Analysis System Lite (CLASLite).

The Stanford University-based group says CLASLite “will rapidly advance deforestation and degradation mapping in Latin America, and will help rainforest nations better monitor their changing carbon budgets.”

The technology will also prove to be useful when the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) mechanism, currently under negotiation at international climate talks, comes online.

“About 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and degradation of tropical forests,” said Greg Asner, project leader for CLASLite.

“Much of it occurs in developing nations, where monitoring capabilities are often unavailable to governments and NGOs.

“This grant allows us to improve and expand CLASLite, and to train many people from tropical forest nations so that they can determine where and when forest losses are occurring.

“Perhaps most importantly,” he added, “rainforest nations will be able to better determine how much CO2 comes from deforestation and degradation. (This) information has been very scarce in the past.

CLASLite is capable of penetrating the upper levels of the rainforest canopy and detecting small differences in vegetation patterns at a scale of about 100 feet (30 metres), producing forest maps from old and new data from Landsat satellites, as well as several other Nasa sensors in Earth orbit.

“The technology can sense changes resulting from selective logging and small surface fires that burn below the forest canopy.

Source: Mongabay.com

Date: 04/12/2008

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