Land use change and carbon fluxes in East Africa quantified using earth observation data and field measurements

Article English OPEN
Pfeifer, Marion ; Platts, Philip John ; Burgess, Neil ; Swetnam, Ruth ; Willcock, Simon ; Marchant, Robert (2013)
  • Subject: 2312 | 2310 | 2309 | 2308 | 2307

Carbon-based forest conservation requires the establishment of ‘reference emission levels’ against which to measure a country or region’s progress in reducing their carbon emissions. In East Africa, landscape-scale estimates of carbon fluxes are uncertain and factors such as deforestation poorly resolved due to a lack of data. In this study, trends in vegetation cover and carbon for East Africawere quantified using moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) land cover grids from 2002 to 2008 (500-m spatial resolution), in combination with a regional carbon look-up table. The inclusion of data on rainfall and the distribution of protected areas helped to gauge impacts on vegetation burning (assessed using 1-km spatial resolution MODIS active fire data) and biome trends. Between 2002 and 2008, the spatial extents of forests, woodlands and scrublands decreased considerably and East Africa experienced a net carbon loss of 494 megatonnes (Mt). Most countries in the area were sources of carbon emissions, except for Tanzania and Malawi, where the areal increase of savannah and woodlands counterbalanced carbon emissions from deforestation. Both Malawi and Tanzania contain large areas of planted forest. Vegetation burning was correlated with rainfall (forest only) and differed depending on land management. Freely available global earth observation products have provided ways to achieve rapid assessment and monitoring of carbon change hotspots at the landscape scale.
  • References (70)
    70 references, page 1 of 7

    Achard, F., Eva, H.D., Mayaux, P., Stibig, H.-J. & Belward, A. (2004) Improved estimates of net carbon emissions from land cover change in the tropics for the 1990s. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 18: GB2008. doi:10.1029/2003GB002142.

    Ahrends, A., Burgess, N.D., Milledge, S.A.H., Bulling, M.T., Fisher, B., Smart, J.C., Clarke, G.P., Mhoro, B.E. & Lewis, S.L. (2010) Predictable waves of sequential forest degradation and biodiversity loss spreading from an African city. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107: 14556- 14561.

    Archibald, S., Nickless, A., Govender, N., Scholes, R.J. & Lehsten, V. (2010) Climate and the inter-annual variability of fire in southern Africa: a meta-analysis using long-term field data and satellite-derived burnt area data. Global Ecology and Biogeography 19: 794-804.

    Baccini, A., Goetz, S.J., Walker, W.S., Laporte, N.T., Sun, M., Sulla-Menashe, D., Hackler, J., Beck, P.S.A., Dubayah, R., Friedl, M.A., Samanta, S. & Houghton, R.A. (2012) Estimated carbon dioxide emissions from tropical deforestation improved by carbon-density maps. Nature Climate Change 2: 182-185.

    Bond, W.J., Woodward, F.I. & Midgley, G.F. (2005) The global distribution of ecosystems in a world without fire. New Phytologist 165: 525-537.

    Brncic, T.M., Willis, K.J., Harris, D.J. & Washington, R. (2007) Culture or climate? The relative influences of past processes on the composition of the lowland Congo rainforest. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B 362: 229-242.

    Brown, S. (1997) Estimating biomass and biomass change of tropical forests: a primer. FAO Forestry Paper no. 134. FAO, Rome, Italy.

    Bucini, G. & Hanan, N.P. (2007) A continental-scale analysis of tree cover in African savannas. Global Ecology and Biogeography 16: 593-605.

    Burgess, N.D., D'Amico Hales, J., Underwood, E. & Dinerstein, E. (2004) Terrestrial Ecoregions of Africa and Madagascar: A Continental Assessment. Washington, DC, USA: Island Press.

    Burgess, N.D., Bahane, B., Clairs, T., Danielsen, F., Dalsgaard, S., Funder, M., Hagelberg, N., Harrison, P., Haule, C., Kabalimu, K., Kilahama, F., Kilawe, E., Lewis, S.L., Lovett, J.C., Lyatuu, G., Marshall, A.R., Meshack, C., Miles, L., Milledge, S.A.H., Munishi, P.K.T., Nashanda, E., Shirima, D., Swetnam, R.D., Willcock, S., Williams, A. & Zahabu, E. (2010) Getting ready for REDD +in Tanzania: a case study of progress and challenges. Oryx 44: 339-351.

  • Related Research Results (3)
  • Metrics
    views in OpenAIRE
    views in local repository
    downloads in local repository

    The information is available from the following content providers:

    From Number Of Views Number Of Downloads
    White Rose Research Online - IRUS-UK 0 27
Share - Bookmark