LaForeT · R²

Spatial analysis of the drivers of tropical de-/reforestation and forest degradation.

Why does this matter?

The tropical climatic domain accounts for almost half of the total forest area worldwide, while having experienced the largest negative net reduction in tree cover between 1992 and 2015, when compared to other biomes (FAO, 2020). These dynamics, together with the associated processes of forest degradation (Edwards et al., 2011; Foley et al., 2007) and landscape fragmentation (Taubert et al., 2018), pose a threat to the ecosystem services and functions provided by tropical forests (Foley et al., 2005; Edwards et al., 2014).

As a result, soil and water quality, biodiversity and carbon stocks are directly affected, together with local livelihoods (Reed et al., 2017). Moreover, tropical deforestation and degradation are also seen as important causes of global greenhouse gas emissions (Seymour and Busch, 2016; Baccini et al., 2017). The drivers of tropical deforestation and degradation are complex and vary between regions, but they are mostly related to land use and anthropogenic pressure, such as expansion of pastures, agro-industrial crops and small-scale forest clearings, selective logging, fire or infrastructure (Curtis et al., 2018; Ferretti-Gallon and Busch, 2014; Seymour and Harris, 2019).

Although these causes are largely known, a better understanding of these drivers across different countries, deforestation contexts and spatial scales is needed. This, together with the development of more accurate tools for the fair and effective monitoring of forest cover and its change across geographical regions and deforestation contexts, are preconditions for designing efficient international policies and coherent land use planning strategies that foster the sustainable use of forest resources in the Tropics (GFOI, 2020).

What are we trying to do?

We focus in the deforestation and forest degradation processes happening in the three LaForeT countries: Zambia, Ecuador and Philippines. The selected countries and regions constitute a gradient of deforestation contexts, regarding their current forest cover and their historical deforestation rates. We perform cross-country pantropical analyses, which apply at different spatial scales, ranging from the landscape or local level to national comparisons. We make use of geographic information systems and remote sensing methods and data, in order to shed some light to the following questions:

  • Are well-studied global drivers of tropical deforestation also constant across different subnational administrative levels?
  • How strong is the impact of neighbouring units?
  • How accurately can we monitor forest cover and the causes of its change?
  • Are these trends the same for different tropical deforestation contexts and forest condition/disturbance regimes, or are there country/region specific behaviours?

What kind of outcomes do we expect?

Our research findings provide implications for the effective monitoring of forest cover in the Tropics and the causes of its change. This provides decision support for policymakers and international environmental programmes, such as REDD+, Forest Landscape Restoration, and the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

References

  • Baccini, A., Walker, W., Carvalho, L., Farina, M., Sulla-Menashe, D., Houghton, R.A., 2017.
    Tropical forests are a net carbon source based on aboveground measurements of gain and loss. Science 358, 230. doi.org/10.1126/science.aam5962
  • Curtis, P.G., Slay, C.M., Harris, N.L., Tyukavina, A., Hansen, M.C., 2018.
    Classifying drivers of global forest loss. Science 361, 1108. doi.org/10.1126/science.aau3445
  • Edwards, D.P., Larsen, T.H., Docherty, T.D., Ansell, F.A., Hsu, W.W., Derhé, M.A., Hamer, K.C., Wilcove, D.S., 2011. Degraded lands worth protecting: the biological importance of Southeast Asia’s repeatedly logged forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278, 82–90.
  • Edwards, D.P., Tobias, J.A., Sheil, D., Meijaard, E., Laurance, W.F., 2014.
    Maintaining ecosystem function and services in logged tropical forests. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 29, 511–520. doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2014.07.003
  • FAO, 2020. State of the World’s Forests 2020: forestry, biodiversity and people. FOOD & AGRICULTURE ORG, S.l.
  • Ferretti-Gallon, K., Busch, J., 2014. What Drives Deforestation and What Stops it? A Meta-Analysis of Spatially Explicit Econometric Studies (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 2458040). Social Science Research Network, Rochester, NY. doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2458040
  • Foley, J.A., Asner, G.P., Costa, M.H., Coe, M.T., DeFries, R., Gibbs, H.K., Howard, E.A., Olson, S., Patz, J., Ramankutty, N., 2007. Amazonia revealed: forest degradation and loss of ecosystem goods and services in the Amazon Basin. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5, 25–32.
  • Foley, J.A., DeFries, R., Asner, G.P., Barford, C., Bonan, G., Carpenter, S.R., Chapin, F.S., Coe, M.T., Daily, G.C., Gibbs, H.K., 2005. Global consequences of land use. Science 309, 570–574.
  • GFOI, 2020. Integration of remote-sensing and ground-based observations for estimation of emissions and removals of greenhouse gases in forests. Methods and Guidance from the Global Forest Observations Initiative. (No. 3.0).
  • Reed, J., van Vianen, J., Foli, S., Clendenning, J., Yang, K., MacDonald, M., Petrokofsky, G., Padoch, C., Sunderland, T., 2017. Trees for life: The ecosystem service contribution of trees to food production and livelihoods in the tropics. Forest Policy and Economics 84, 62–71. doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2017.01.012
  • Seymour, F., Busch, J., 2016. Why forests? Why now?: The science, economics, and politics of tropical forests and climate change. Brookings Institution Press.
  • Taubert, F., Fischer, R., Groeneveld, J., Lehmann, S., Müller, M.S., Rödig, E., Wiegand, T., Huth, A., 2018. Global patterns of tropical forest fragmentation. Nature 554, 519–522.

Work Package 1 · LaForeT

Drivers of deforestation