Mapping pervasive selective logging in the south-west Brazilian Amazon 2000-2019

M. G. Hethcoat, J. M. B. Carreiras, D. P. Edwards, R. G. Bryant, C. A. Peres, S. Quegan

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Abstract

Tropical forests harbour the highest biodiversity on the planet and are essential to human livelihoods and the global economy. However continued loss and degradation of forested landscapes, coupled with a rapidly rising global population, is placing incredible pressure on forests globally. The United Nations has developed the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD +) programme in response to the challenges facing tropical forests and in recognition of the role they can play in climate mitigation. REDD + requires consistent and reliable monitoring of forests, however, national-level methodologies for measuring degradation are often bespoke and, because of an inability to track degradation effectively, the majority of countries combine reporting for deforestation and forest degradation into a single value. Here, we extend a recent analysis that enabled the detection of selective logging at the scale of a logging concession to a regional-scale estimation of selective logging activities. We utilized logging records from across Brazil to train a supervised classification algorithm for detecting logged pixels in Landsat imagery then predicted the extent of logging over a 20 year period throughout Rondônia, Brazil. Approximately one-quarter of the forested lands in Rondônia were cleared between 2000 and 2019. We estimate that 11.0% of the forest area present in 2000 had been selectively logged by 2019, comprising >11 500 km2 of forest. In general, rates of selective logging were twice as high in the first decade relative to the last decade of the period. Our approach is a considerable advance in developing an operationalized selective logging monitoring system capable of detecting subtle forest disturbances over large spatial scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number094057
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume15
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2020

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