Peru opens deforestation data to the public, shows drop in Amazon forest clearing

Rhett Butler, mongabay.com
June 13, 2013

Peru has made its comprehensive deforestation data available to the public.

The data shows that while more than 100,000 hectares have been cleared in the Peruvian Amazon on annual basis since 2005, the rate of clearing has slowed in recent years. Between 2009 and 2010, some 108,571 ha of forest were lost in the region. Between 2010 and 2011, that number fell to 103,380 ha or 0.16 percent of the Peruvian Amazon's forest cover annually. Overall, more than 78 percent of the area is forested, down from 80 percent or about 63 million hectares in 2000.

Peru's deforestation monitoring system has been in development with several partners since late 2009. The system is based primarily on analysis of satellite data using CLASlite, a software tool that uses images from NASA's Landsat and MODIS sensors to generate maps revealing changes in forest cover, including deforestation and degradation. The data was checked by field sampling and the use of flyovers.

Click to enlarge.
According to the Peru's ministry of environment, MINAM, the system can detect changes from forest to non-forest to a level of detail of 0.09 hectares or 30 meters by 30 meters. It tracks change across 95 percent of Peru's forest cover with 92 percent accuracy, an above-average degree of accuracy for such a large area.

Greg Asner, a research at the Carnegie Institution for Science who has been working with the Peruvian government on the project, says the system could be a model for other countries developing deforestation tracking platforms.

"This is a big deal," Asner told mongabay.com. "The Peruvian government is making their first estimates of deforestation available online for others to view. Perhaps more countries will install their own high-resolution mapping teams and make the results as transparent as Peru has done here."

Peru's new system will help it move forward on its program for reducing emissions on deforestation and degradation (REDD+). Peru is one of several countries participating in the Governors Climate and Forests Initiative, an effort to set up frameworks for REDD+ programs between states and provinces internationally.

Deforestation data from Killeen 2012, with MINAM data for 2011. Click to enlarge.

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Rhett Butler, mongabay.com (June 13, 2013).

Peru opens deforestation data to the public, shows drop in Amazon forest clearing.