World's rainforests could be mapped in 3D at high resolution by 2020 for under $250M

5 September 2014

Mapping the world's tropical forests with a fleet of airplanes outfitted with advanced LiDAR could rapidly and accurately assess global forest carbon stocks for a fraction of the cost of a typical Earth observation satellite mission — and far less than field-based sampling — argues a new paper published in Carbon Balance and Management.

The commentary, authored by a group of prominent scientists from several institutions, reviews recent progress in applying laser ranging technology (LiDAR) to forest mapping and lays out a case for a global campaign to survey the world's forests in support of REDD+, a program that aims to compensate tropical countries for reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. These sources account for roughly 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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