Scenarios in tropical forest degradation : Carbon stock trajectories for REDD+

Andrade, Rafael B.; Balch, Jennifer K.; Parsons, Amoreena L.; Armenteras, Dolors; Roman-Cuesta, Rosa Maria; Bulkan, Janette


Background: Human-caused disturbance to tropical rainforests-such as logging and fire-causes substantial losses of carbon stocks. This is a critical issue to be addressed in the context of policy discussions to implement REDD+. This work reviews current scientific knowledge about the temporal dynamics of degradation-induced carbon emissions to describe common patterns of emissions from logging and fire across tropical forest regions. Using best available information, we: (i) develop short-term emissions factors (per area) for logging and fire degradation scenarios in tropical forests; and (ii) describe the temporal pattern of degradation emissions and recovery trajectory post logging and fire disturbance. Results: Average emissions from aboveground biomass were 19.9 MgC/ha for logging and 46.0 MgC/ha for fire disturbance, with an average period of study of 3.22 and 2.15 years post-disturbance, respectively. Longer-term studies of post-logging forest recovery suggest that biomass accumulates to pre-disturbance levels within a few decades. Very few studies exist on longer-term (>10 years) effects of fire disturbance in tropical rainforests, and recovery patterns over time are unknown. Conclusions: This review will aid in understanding whether degradation emissions are a substantial component of country-level emissions portfolios, or whether these emissions would be offset by forest recovery and regeneration.