Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Panama REDD: Getting what you pay for

A new report by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Canada's McGill University identifies gaps in forest monitoring and ways to improve data collection. This will produce reliable estimates of greenhouse gas emission reductions from activities aimed at reducing deforestation.

Under a United Nations proposal to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, called REDD+, developing countries would be compensated according to their success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The importance of the REDD+ proposal is that it addresses the approximately 10-15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions created by deforestation.

Panama's abundant tropical biodiversity and the fact that more than 40 percent of the country is still forested makes Panama an ideal testing ground for conservation strategies that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, Panama was one of the first countries selected by the World Bank and the United Nations REDD+ initiative to receive funding.

"We wanted to know if readily available in-country monitoring techniques would be enough to demonstrate that emissions could be reduced by the REDD+ plans that United Nations delegates have been discussing since 2005," said Johanne Pelletier, doctoral candidate at McGill University and first author of the study. "We made a model for Panama to simulate land-cover change from 2000-2030 based on two maps and the available carbon stock information, and found that better monitoring will be needed to show that emission reductions are really taking place."

The best land-use maps available to the public from Panama's National Environmental Authority were maps produced in 1992 and 2000 using information about forest cover from Landsat satellites. Cloud cover often blocks the view of satellites. The STRI-McGill team found that the 1992 map was a composite of images from 1988 to 1992 and the 2000 map was based on images dating back to 1998.

"If we could compare cloud-free images of the land cover in each of these two years, it would be easy to show that land use has changed, but the fact that satellite images from as many as five different years had to be pieced together to make a complete map obscures the land-use changes that have taken place," said Pelletier.

Only a scenario that simulates reducing deforestation by half was sufficient to show that significant emissions reductions were achieved. In other words, the "noise" around existing data is such that emission reductions that would take place in Panama due to an effort to halt deforestation would not be detectable. The use of different methodologies to measure carbon stocks in mature forest and the natural variability in forest carbon density made this the number one source of error. There is an urgent need to improve the methodology and the data available to measure emissions from the forest sector.

"Monitoring is a preeminent preoccupation of developed countries vis-à-vis the REDD+ proposal," said Catherine Potvin, professor at McGill University and associate staff scientist at STRI. "If they are to disburse financial resources to support the effort of developing countries that try to halt deforestation, they want to be able to track emissions reduction in a reliable way. We need to develop new, low-cost, verifiable forest monitoring techniques to clearly show that Panama's efforts to reduce deforestation and conserve forests on native lands pay off for the climate."

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. Website:

Pelletier, Johanne; Ramankutty, Navin; and Potvin, Catherine. 2011. Diagnosing the uncertainty and detectability of emission reductions for REDD+ under current capabilities: an example for Panama. Environ. Res. Lett. 6 (2011) 024005 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/2/024005

Beth King | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>