Intact Forest Landscapes Monitoring
The negative role of forest loss and degradation, including fragmentation of natural landscapes, in global climate change and biodiversity loss is well known. The global rates of forest degradation are uncertain, however. While our knowledge concerning the rates of deforestation have greatly improved in the last few years through the use of remote sensing data, the forest degradation estimates, as a general rule, remain accurate only at the local level. Estimating degradation is difficult due to the great variability in the forms, factors and degrees of human impact.
Historic analysis of 24-year IFL change in the European Russia North (Arkhangelsk region).
A simple and feasible way to cope with this complexity is to use changes in forest intactness as a proxy for forest degradation. The boundary between 'intact' and 'non intact' forest landscapes provided by this study has several advantages as a baseline:
- It provides a detailed "snapshot" of the ecological integrity of the world's forest biomes at the beginning of the new Millennium (approximately year 2000);
- The mapping method can be easily adapted into a monitoring method that uses the same type of data (high spatial resolution satellite images);
- Its high precision and fine scale make it a meaningful baseline for analysis of the small-scale disturbances that can be detected by remotely sensed data.
We are currently working on several national-wide and regional IFL monitoring projects, having already completed some countries and continents (i.e. European Russia, Africa, Indonesia and Central America).