Hi-tech tool reveals extent of deforestation

23 November, 2009 by (comments)

Shocking new statistics on natural habitat loss released by CIAT’s Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA) program have been picked up by the Colombian newspaper Semana.

DAPA has been working on a system of near real-time monitoring of land cover across Latin America, using a new PARASID tool, jointly developed by CIAT and The Nature Conservancy, which combines satellite imagery with computer modeling. It found that Colombia’s southern Caquetá department has lost a staggering 180,000 hectares of primary Amazon rainforest since 2003, partly due to increases in dairy farming.

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Semana interviews Jose Yunis from The Nature Conservancy about the march of the agricultural frontier in the region and possible measures for abating the loss of forest cover.

DAPA’s analysis is playing an increasingly important role in influencing conservation policy in the Caquetá region and in other areas of Colombia. Government officials are using the results in the run-up to COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month, to put precise numbers on deforestation rates in the country.

The PARASID system is also very useful as a platform for implementing REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) by providing a baseline of historic deforestation, as well as a way of monitoring forest loss during the implementation of REDD projects.

DAPA program leader Andy Jarvis said: “The applications of this tool are endless, and in CIAT we are just beginning to get new data on land cover processes across Latin America.

“In today’s climate crisis, we need to ensure productivity in agricultural landscapes, but not at the price of natural ecosystems. It shows the importance of developing an eco-efficient agriculture. ”

Semana interview with Jose Yunis

YouTube video on PARASID

Presentations on PARASID:

http://www.slideshare.net/CIAT/louis-r-parasid-colombia-ideam-oct-2009

http://www.slideshare.net/CIAT/andy-jarvis-parasid-near-real-time-monitoring-of-habitat-change-using-a-neural-network-and-modis-data-tnc-science-cabinet-sept-2009

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Filed Under: Latin America and the Caribbean, Regions