Nunes, Sâmia; Oliveira Jr., Luis; Siqueira, João; Morton, Douglas C.; Souza Jr., Carlos M. Unmasking secondary vegetation dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 15, Number 3, 6 March 2020. DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/ab76db
Abstract: Secondary vegetation (SV) from land abandonment is a common transition phase between agricultural uses following tropical deforestation. The impact of SV on carbon sequestration and habitat fragmentation across tropical forest frontiers therefore depends on SV dynamics and demographics. Here, we used time series of annual MapBiomas land cover data to generate the first estimates of SV extent, age, and net carbon uptake in the Brazilian Amazon between 1985 and 2017. SV increased over time, totaling 12 Mha in 2017, 44% of which was ≤5 years old. Between 1988 and 2017, 19.6 Mha of SV was cleared, adding 45.5% to the area of primary deforestation detected by the Brazilian monitoring system (PRODES). Rates of SV loss have exceeded PRODES deforestation since 2011. Based on the age and extent of gains and losses, SV was a small net carbon sink during this period (8.9 Tg C yr−1). As SV is not formally protected by national environmental legislation or monitored by PRODES, long-term benefits from SV in the Brazilian Amazon remain uncertain.