Comparative Analysis of CDM Reforestation Projects in Latin America

Organised by Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing

Wed 8 May 2019 09:00 to 09:30

Venue Gaia, gebouwnummer 101
Room 2

By Olivier Hacking

Deforestation is an important driver for land-based CO2 emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere. Together with other disturbance factors, deforestation causes land degradation and, consequentially, reduces environmental and socio-economic well-being. Particularly Latin America, with its expansive Amazon rainforest, holds enormous reserves of carbon. These reserves have faced great pressure from globalization and agricultural demands in the form of deforestation. Reforestation projects aimed at addressing this issue in Latin America, supported by government, civil society, and private actors, have been increasing in number and extent over the past decades. The objective of this research is to analyse the performance, in terms of vegetation cover change, of 15 reforestation projects in Latin America supported by the Clean Development Mechanism program. Four datasets, each based on different vegetation indicators, are used to tackle the research objective. In this way, a more reliable insight into project performance is achieved when compared to using one dataset only. Overall, 11 out of 15 projects show substantial (ranging from 2.9% to 45.7%) increases in vegetation cover. The remaining four projects show insubstantial (<2%) positive or negative change. As a result of the discrepancies within a project’s performance figures, agreement on a project’s performance classification by at least three of the four datasets was determined necessary to reliably state project performance. The projects reaching agreement can thus, with greater levels of confidence, be said to perform at a specific level. Classifications include high increase (>25%), medium increase (5 – 24.99%), low increase (0.1 – 4.99%), no increase (0%), and decrease (<0%). The datasets agreed on three projects for high increase, two projects for low increase (of which one showed insubstantial change), and two projects for decrease (of which one showed insubstantial change). Reasons behind the differences in performance were investigated by comparing performance based on four factors; project area, start year, ecological zone, and soil type. Better performance was correlated with smaller project areas and later project start years. The effect of ecological zone and soil type on performance could not be determined, due to the small sample size of 15 projects. Ultimately, the results prove that many CDM reforestation projects in Latin America show increased vegetation cover since project implementation.