Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France

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Wednesday 8 July - 14:30-16:00 UNESCO Bonvin - ROOM XIII

2215 (a) - Tropical degraded forests response to global change: current knowledge and cross-cutting research challenges for monitoring and processes understanding

Parallel Session

Lead Convener(s): S. Luque (IRSTEA National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture, St-Martin-d’Hères, cedex, France)

Convener(s): P. Sist (Cirad, Montpellier, France), B. Mora (GOFC-GOLD LC Project Office, Wageningen, Netherlands)

14:30

Introduction

S. Luque (IRSTEA National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture, St-Martin-d'Hères, cedex, France)

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14:35

Tropical Forest Degradation in the context of climate change: increasing role and research challenges

P. Sist (Cirad, Montpellier, France), J. Chave (CNRS, Toulouse, France), E. Rutishauser (CarboFor-Expert, Genève, Switzerland)

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Tropical Forest Degradation in the context of climate change: increasing role and research challenges

P. Sist (1) ; J. Chave (2) ; E. Rutishauser (3)
(1) Cirad, Montpellier, France; (2) CNRS, Laboratoire evolution et diversité biologique (edb), umr 5174, Toulouse, France; (3) CarboFor-Expert, Genève, Switzerland

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While developed countries in temperate regions faced their forest transition about 100 years ago or more, “tropical forest rich” nations still largely depend on forest resources or land clearing for their development. Hence, tropical forests are retreating at an alarming rate from advancing cash crops, such as oil palm, soybean, or cattle ranching. Beside tropical deforestation, tropical forest degradation resulting mostly from human-induced causes (e.g. predatory or illegal logging, non-timber forest product extraction, fuel wood extraction) significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and loss of biodiversity. If deforestation is an obvious ecosystem change, forest degradation is more difficult to discern and quantify. Degraded forests have become a major component of today’s tropical landscapes, representing up to 50 % of all tropical forests. For example, almost half of standing primary tropical forests, up to 400 million ha, are designated by national forest services for timber production.  The portion of tropical forests managed for timber extraction, hereafter referred to as “managed forests”, will therefore play key roles in the trade-off between provision of goods and maintenance of carbon stocks, biodiversity, and other services. However, so far, most of our understanding of tropical forest arise from studies carried out in old-growth undisturbed forests, or secondary forests (i.e. regrowth forests) while the ecology of degraded forests at the regional and continental scale remains poorly studied and their role to mitigate climate change still very poorly known. However, understanding the functions played by degraded forests in providing goods and environmental services in the context of climate change is crucial. We will first discuss the complex concept of forest degradation in the tropics and then define degraded forests. We will show their importance in providing timber while maintaining high levels of biodiversity and carbon stocks.  We will further demonstrate that implementation of sustainable forest management can promote long term provision of ecosystem services. Finally, the potential of tropical degraded forests in mitigating climate change will be discussed along with future research challenges on this issue.

14:50

Tropical forests, Earth Observation and REDD+: requirements, research and progress in supporting developing countries

F.M. Seifert (European Space Agency, ESA-ESRIN, Frascati, Italy)

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Tropical forests, Earth Observation and REDD+: requirements, research and progress in supporting developing countries

FM. Seifert (1)
(1) European Space Agency, Earth observation programme, ESA-ESRIN, Frascati, Italy

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Tropical forests represent about 45 % of the world forests, are home to over 2/3 of terrestrial living species and play a major role in climate regulation. In 2005, official discussions initiated at the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established a process to analyze how reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in developing countries could contribute to the ultimate goal of the Convention. A basic underpinning requirement is the systematic long-term observation of forests and other land cover characteristics and changes on national and global levels. The European Copernicus programme will guarantee these long term observations by the Sentinel satellites for the next decades. In response to this need several international activities have been established like the REDD working group within the “Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics” (GOFC-GOLD) and the “Global Forest Observation Initiative” (GFOI) of GEO. Both initiatives foster a continuous interaction mechanism with the UNFCCC to provide technical contributions to the negotiations and for national-level capacity development for monitoring emphasizing the important role of satellite remote sensing in this context.

The presentation will elaborate the state of play of REDD+ in the political context and discuss the approach and experiences of the Earth Observation and carbon monitoring community with the REDD political discussions. It addresses the research community with open scientific questions to improve methodologies to support REDD early actions and readiness mechanisms for building national REDD monitoring systems. Critical issues on monitoring forest degradation, accuracy assessments, biomass burning and the role of evolving technologies will be discussed.

15:00

R&D efforts, coordination, and needs towards operational forest monitoring systems in the context of an increasing Earth observation data availability

B. Mora (GOFC-GOLD LC Project Office, Wageningen, Netherlands)

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R&D efforts, coordination, and needs towards operational forest monitoring systems in the context of an increasing Earth observation data availability

B. Mora (1)
(1) GOFC-GOLD LC Project Office, Wageningen, Netherlands

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Deforestation is the second largest source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, accounting for 15% to 20% of the total emissions. To meet the challenge of climate change in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been developing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism. The UNFCCC recommends the use of remote sensing for forest monitoring in the frame of REDD+. Forest degradation can be monitored by remote sensing technologies using direct methods like forest gap detection, or indirect methods using logging roads as a proxy. International initiatives such as the Global Observation for Forest Cover and Land Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) and the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) foster sustainable availability of Earth observation data to support national forest monitoring and reporting activities compliant with the good practice guidance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). GOFC-GOLD and GFOI also provide guidance to countries to develop forest monitoring systems, with the REDD Sourcebook and the Method and Guidance Document, respectively. These international initiatives foster also coordinated research and development (R&D) activities encouraging joint projects between research institutions, in collaboration with space agencies.

The launch of Landsat-8 in 2014 ensures the continuity of Landsat missions with an increased ability to collect data compared to the 1980’s (about 14 times more images). Joint to the American effort, Europe will increase further Earth observations capabilities with the advent of the Sentinel satellite constellations. Sentinel 1A was launched in 2014 with a Synthetic Aperture Radar C-band sensor. The launch of the Sentinel-2A carrying a superspectral optical sensor is scheduled for June 2015. Sentinel-2A will allow a coverage of the land surface every 10 days. Once Sentinel-2B will be launched, the Sentinel-2 satellites combined with Landsat-8 will allow a revisit time period of 3-4 days. Other national and international satellite missions will also will provide or provide already additional imagery, either in the radar and optical domain (e.g., CBERS-4, SPOT series, Pleiades, ALOS-2). The increased amount of observations will facilitate the use of time series analysis methods for the monitoring of tropical forests. Such methods are still at the R&D stage however some studies have started to show their potential capabilities to detect deforestation, forest degradation, but also forest regrowth. Challenges still remain to make such methods operational such as data set accessibility, data source interoperability (optical and radar), increase of the robustness, use of recommended practices, and standards. Such R&D efforts can serve other international policy discussions and agreements beyond those from the UNFCCC. The monitoring of habitats and their fragmentation for instance are listed among the Biodiversity Aichi Targets proposed by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD).

This presentation will present some foreseeable forest monitoring methods including degradation to become operational in tropical regions within the next decade, in the context of an increasing availability of Earth Observation data. We will present also international efforts to coordinate research, promote robust forest monitoring methods and standards. Finally we will discuss the current knowledge gaps and R&D needs to be met to achieve the objectives of some international policy negotiations and agreements.

15:10

Assessment of forest degradation in the Amazon using multi-sensors techniques: the case of Paragominas (Brazil)

V. Gond (CIRAD, Montpellier, France), C. Bourgoin (CIRAD, Montpellier, France), L. Blanc (CIRAD, Montpellier, France), N. Baghdadi (IRSTEA, Montpellier, France), J. Oszwald (Université Rennes-2, Rennes, France), P. Sist (Cirad, Montpellier, France)

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Assessment of forest degradation in the Amazon using multi-sensors techniques: the case of Paragominas (Brazil)

V. Gond (1) ; C. Bourgoin (1) ; L. Blanc (1) ; N. Baghdadi (2) ; J. Oszwald (3) ; P. Sist (4)
(1) CIRAD, ES, Montpellier, France; (2) IRSTEA, Umr tetis, Montpellier, France; (3) Université Rennes-2, Umr letg, Rennes, France; (4) Cirad, Montpellier, France

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The Amazonian pioneer front region is a mosaic of different forests types and agricultural landscapes resulting from the colonization of the region through forest conversion into pasture and agricultural lands. Fearnside and Guimaraes (1996) showed that 47% of the deforested area is rapidly abandoned. It also appears that logged forests surface is equivalent to deforested areas (Asner et al., 2005).

Consequently a degradation gradient exists from low-impacted logged forests (depending of the logging intensity) to young secondary (regrowth) forests. To obtain more accurate estimation of carbon stocks, it is important today to take into account the degraded forest gradient including all degraded forest stages between mature intact forests and non-forest areas. The first main challenge is  to identify and to characterize the various stages.

The identification of forest degradation is still a complex and expansive problem even if it has been focused until now only on logged tropical rainforest (Asner, 2009; Gond and Guitet, 2009; Desclées et al., 2006; Asner et al., 2005; Souza et al., 2003). In parallel estimation of biomass loss in the degraded forest is little-studied. Within temperate and boreal forests some estimation are made by Solberg et al., (2013). The combination of optical remotely sensed data (Landsat-8), radar (Terra-Sar-X) and Lidar (IceSat) have to be studied to analyze the potential of the multi-sensors techniques to characterize the tropical rainforest degradation (Betbeder et al., 2014).

The study presents the first results obtained during the field work at Paragominas (Pará, Brazil) on different forest degradation intensities (Bérenguer et al., 2014). This field database is then compared with multi-sensors remote sensing to better understand multiple interactions and to establish a forest degradation typology.

15:20

The Challenges of Monitoring Forest Degradation: A Case Study from Central India

R. Defries (Columbia University, New York, NY, United States of America), M. Agarwala, (Columbia University, New York, United States of America)

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The Challenges of Monitoring Forest Degradation: A Case Study from Central India

R. Defries (1) ; M. Agarwala, (2)
(1) Columbia University, Ecology, Evolution, and Enviromental Biology, New York, NY, United States of America; (2) Columbia University, Ecology, evolution, and environmental biology, New York, United States of America

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Forest degradation, as distinct from deforestation, results in loss of forest biomass within forested ecosystems.  Implications for climate include reductions in carbon storage and the reduced ability of forests to provide hydrological services that buffer against climate change.  Many factors contribute to anthropogenically-driven forest degradation, including local dependence on forest resources for fodder, fuelwood and other products as well as fire and commercial timber extraction. Monitoring forest degradation with remote sensing is more complex than monitoring deforestation and calls for the use of data from non-optical sensors.  An example from central India, where local livelihoods are highly dependent on forests, illustrates the use of optical and radar data to monitor changes in forest biomass associated with human use.  Loss of biomass is associated with human use surrounding villages.  Reductions in degradation in this context depend on providing livelihood options that reduce dependence on forest resources.  The utility of operational systems for monitoring progress towards that goal depends on the involvement of NGOs and other institutions working with local communities.  Expanding degradation monitoring over large areas needs to account for the heterogeneity of forest types and varying pressures on forests in different settings. 

15:30

Q&A session and Discussion

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Q&A session and Discussion
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