To better understand deforestation trends in South America.



Quantifying the drivers of South American deforestation

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Can you imagine examining samples from every patch of forest cleared over a period of 15 years across an entire continent?

That’s exactly what Veronique De Sy, a scientist at Wageningen University and at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), did for her latest study by using satellite imagery to quantify the drivers of deforestation for South America between the years of 1990 and 2005.

“It was quite labor-intensive,” said De Sy. “The task of visually confirming every data point of deforestation took me about a year, but I got a really nice result, so it was worth it.”

And a very valuable result – or rather, set of results – too.

Manually checking samples from each 10km by 10km patch of South America’s landmass meant that De Sy could attribute patches of deforestation to specific land-uses. Further, using data divided into two time periods allowed for a perspective on how these processes had changed over time.

This approach enabled De Sy to build up a picture of the drivers of deforestation which is both spatially and temporally explicit, providing welcome detail for policymakers and others looking to understand this fifteen-year period of significant land-use change.

Read the full story: Forest News


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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