A landscape mosaics approach for characterizing swidden systems from a REDD+.

Applied Geography (Impact Factor: 3.08). 03/2012; 32(2):608-618. DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.07.011

ABSTRACT Swidden agriculture is often deemed responsible for deforestation and forest degradation in tropical regions, yet swidden landscapes are commonly not visible on land cover/use maps, making it difficult to prove this assertion. For a future REDD+ scheme, the correct identification of deforestation and forest degradation and linking these processes to land use is crucial. However, it is a key challenge to distinguish degradation and deforestation from temporal vegetation dynamics inherent to swiddening. In this article we present an approach for spatial delineation of swidden systems based on landscape mosaics. Furthermore we introduce a classification for change processes based on the change matrix of these landscape mosaics. Our approach is illustrated by a case study in Viengkham district in northern Laos. Over a 30-year time period the swidden landscapes have increased in extent and they have degraded, shifting from long crop-fallow cycles to short cycles. From 2007 to 2009 degradation within the swidden system accounted for half of all the landscape mosaics change processes. Pioneering shifting cultivation did not prevail. The landscape mosaics approach could be used in a swidden compatible monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system of a future REDD+ framework.

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    ABSTRACT: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) requires developing countries to quantify greenhouse gas emissions and removals from forests in a manner that is robust, transparent, and as accurate as possible. Although shifting cultivation is a dominant practice in several developing countries, there is still very limited information available on how to monitor this land‐use practice for REDD+ as little is known about the areas of shifting cultivation or the net carbon balance. In this study, we propose and test a methodology to monitor the effect of the shifting cultivation on above‐ground carbon stocks. We combine multiyear remote sensing information, taken from a 12‐year period, with an in‐depth community forest carbon stock inventory in Palo Seco Forest Reserve, western Panama. Using remote sensing, we were able to separate four forest classes expressing different forest‐use intensity and time‐since‐intervention, which demonstrate expected trends in above‐ground carbon stocks. The addition of different interventions observed over time is shown to be a good predictor, with remote sensing variables explaining 64.2% of the variation in forest carbon stocks in cultivated landscapes. Multitemporal and multispectral medium‐resolution satellite imagery is shown to be adequate for tracking land‐use dynamics of the agriculture‐fallow cycle. The results also indicate that, over time, shifting cultivation has a transitory effect on forest carbon stocks in the study area. This is due to the rapid recovery of forest carbon stocks, which results in limited net emissions. Finally, community participation yielded important additional benefits to measuring carbon stocks, including transparency and the valorization of local knowledge for biodiversity monitoring. Our study provides important inputs regarding shifting cultivation, which should be taken into consideration when national forest monitoring systems are created, given the context of REDD+ safeguards.
    Global Change Biology 12/2012; 18(12). · 8.22 Impact Factor
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    Applied Geography 09/2014; 53:299–310. · 3.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this review paper we present geographical, ecological and historical aspects of Southeast Asia from the perspective of forest degradation monitoring and critically discuss available approaches for large area forest degradation monitoring with satellite remote sensing data at high to medium spatial resolution (5–30 m). Several authors have achieved promising results in geographically limited areas within Southeast Asia using automated detection algorithms. However, the application of automated methods to large area assessments remains a major challenge. To-date, nearly all large area assessments of forest degradation in the region have included a strong visual interpretation component. We conclude that due to the variety of forest types and forest disturbance levels, as well as the variable image acquisition conditions in Southeast Asia, it is unlikely that forest degradation monitoring can be conducted throughout the region using a single automated approach with currently available remote sensing data. The provision of regionally consistent information on forest degradation from satellite remote sensing data remains therefore challenging. However, the expected increase in observation frequency in the near future (due to Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 satellites) may lead to the desired improvement in data availability and enable consistent and robust regional forest degradation monitoring in Southeast Asia.
    Global Ecology and Conservation. 12/2014;


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May 16, 2014