New carbon map for Peru reveals huge potential to avoid deforestation

10 November 2014

Nearly a billion tons of carbon in Peru's rainforests is at risk from logging, infrastructure projects, and oil and gas extraction, yet opportunities remain to conserve massive amounts of forest in indigenous territories, parks, and unprotected areas, finds a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The research is based on a comprehensive assessment of Peru's carbon stocks using an advanced laser-based mapping system. The system, developed by a team led by Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science, enables scientists to map three dimensional vegetation structure at extremely high resolution, well beyond the capabilities of conventional satellite-based systems. 

The mapping work revealed the extent of above-ground carbon storage across landscapes and ecosystems — ranging from farmland to Andean cloud forests to dense rainforests — in Peru. Asner and colleagues then overlaid the carbon map with land use data, including various concessions, indigenous reserves, illegal mining areas, and protected and unprotected areas, revealing potential greenhouse gas emissions and opportunities for carbon conservation.

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