Carbon emissions from deforestation and forest fragmentation in the Brazilian Amazon

Carbon emissions from deforestation and forest fragmentation in the Brazilian Amazon

Izaya Numata, Mark A Cochrane, Carlos M Souza Jr & Marcio H Sales. 2011.Forest-fragmentation-related edge effects are one of the major causes of forest degradation in Amazonia and their spatio-temporal dynamics are highly influenced by annual deforestation patterns. Rapid biomass collapse due to edge effects in forest fragments has been reported in the Brazilian Amazon; however the collective impacts of this process on Amazonian carbon fluxes are poorly understood. We estimated biomass loss and carbon emissions from deforestation and forest fragmentation related to edge effects on the basis of the INPE (Brazilian National Space Research Institute) PRODES deforestation data and forest biomass volume data. The areas and ages of edge forests were calculated annually and the corresponding biomass loss and carbon emissions from these forest edges were estimated using published rates of biomass decay and decomposition corresponding to the areas and ages of edge forests. Our analysis estimated carbon fluxes from deforestation (4195 Tg C) and edge forest (126–221 Tg C) for 2001–10 in the Brazilian Amazon. The impacts of varying rates of deforestation on regional forest fragmentation and carbon fluxes were also investigated, with the focus on two periods: 2001–5 (high deforestation rates) and 2006–10 (low deforestation rates). Edge-released carbon accounted for 2.6–4.5% of deforestation-related carbon emissions. However, the relative importance of carbon emissions from forest fragmentation increased from 1.7–3.0% to 3.3–5.6% of the respective deforestation emissions between the two contrasting deforestation rates. Edge-related carbon fluxes are of increasing importance for basin-wide carbon accounting, especially as regards ongoing reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) efforts in Brazilian Amazonia.

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