N.L. Harris, S. Brown, S.C. Hagen, S.S. Saatchi, S. Petrova, W. Salas, M.C. Hansen, P.V. Potapov and A. Lotsch. 2012. Baseline Map of Carbon Emissions from Deforestation in Tropical Regions. Science Vol. 336 no. 6088 pp. 1573-1576
Policies to reduce emissions from deforestation would benefit from clearly derived, spatially explicit, statistically bounded estimates of carbon emissions. Existing efforts derive carbon impacts of land-use change using broad assumptions, unreliable data, or both. We improve on this approach using satellite observations of gross forest cover loss and a map of forest carbon stocks to estimate gross carbon emissions across tropical regions between 2000 and 2005 as 0.81 petagram of carbon per year, with a 90% prediction interval of 0.57 to 1.22 petagrams of carbon per year. This estimate is 25 to 50% of recently published estimates. By systematically matching areas of forest loss with their carbon stocks before clearing, these results serve as a more accurate benchmark for monitoring global progress on reducing emissions from deforestation.