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Even more carbon emitted from tropical forests!

By Colin Ricketts - 26 May 2014 7:40:0 GMT
Even more carbon emitted from tropical forests!

Deep in the Amazon, something stirs. The deceptive nature of carbon emissions has enlarged our worries about global warming, just as this beautiful longhorn beetle, Hedypathes betulinus could be another kind of pest to the Amazon's trees; Beetle image; Credit: © Shutterstock

A journal has an interesting article to challenge current climate change theory and global warming solutions in - Global Change Biology. The underestimate of carbon loss arises from selective logging and set fires which can be grouped together as hidden emissions. The hidden nature of tropical deforestation methodology is part of the main problem too.

Satellite assessments are unable to view such slow change, but these depredations cause 40% of Brazilian CO2 emissions from deforestation. The Amazon of course is a prime source of emissions in a global context, alongside SE Asian forest loss. The estimates of human induced greenhouse gases include a recent annual norm of 12% from the Amazon basin! But CO2 is being lost even when the satellites show a no change situation.

On the ground, human assessment has to involve at least 70,000 trees and soil sampling of up to 5,000 test soils. Erika Berenguer is the lead author of the paper, explaining, "when you talk about degradation it is more cryptic. Chunks of the forest are affected but when you look from the satellite image you still see trees, you just don't know the condition, and that is why it is overlooked."

In Brazil, private forestry is the norm. Just as in many other countries, businessmen and generals seem to own the precious resource. The slow-moving degradation of the seeming-intact forest involves contacting many landowners so that assessment could be carried out on their forest. However, the end result is an unlikely accuracy.

In 2010, 54 billion tonnes of emissions were produced from these hidden sources, increasing Amazonian carbon loss by 40%. Dr. Berenguer estimates that burning pasture and selective logging and, "an edge effect," were the main culprits. She further explains that, "These edge effects happen when you fragment a forest, when it is close to a pasture, that border is subject to higher temperatures, higher winds and the forest starts dying out from the edge toward the core."

Indonesia and Africa are believed to have the same edge effects within their degraded forests To effectively prevent such actions would seem impossible at the moment. Better and presumably more central management are absolutely necessary, particularly for fire controls. Brazil has attempted this, but gave up, partly in consideration of the extreme violence that has occurred there around forest protesters.

Enforcement in this Wild West or laissez-faire type of situation would be impossible. The difficulties have seen a huge disparity in the carbon emissions data, however, and the problem has to be dealt with in a highly enforced manner. It's not science, but the public need to answer the call and buy products that are certified as non-cowboy! The REDD+ forum has so far been instrumental in encouraging a robust verification process to reduce emissions. Last year in Warsaw, the World Bank's Biocarbon Fund agreed to manage a $280 million fund to promote sustainability in land use. In similar vein, developing countries can also receive payments for verified safeguards they put in place to protect biodiversity and local communities.