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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluating uncertainty in tropical forest loss between 1990 and 2010 : an inter-comparison of different data sets Ferretti-Gallon, Kalifi


Tropical forests are a lynchpin for environmental and social services, but are undergoing rapid deforestation. Despite the urgency of this issue, and despite rapid technological advances in monitoring tropical deforestation, and the existence of multiple studies of tropical forest loss over the last two decades, there is little certainty on the rates of tropical forest loss. We intercompared available pan-tropical forest change studies over the 1990-2010 period to examine: 1) differences in tropical forest loss during the 1990s, 2) differences in tropical forest loss in the 2000s, 3) differences in the rate of change of tropical forest loss from the 1990s to the 2000s, and 4) how these pan-tropical estimates compare to independent country/regional-level estimates of tropical forest loss. On balance, we conclude that tropical forest loss is decelerating between those decades. We also find that country reports from the Forest Resources Assessment of the Food and Agriculture Organization appear to be the least reliable; that satellite-based data appear the most reliable despite some persistent differences; and that there is higher agreement between forest loss estimates in Latin America. Our study improves current understanding of tropical forest loss in order to better inform policies to reduce deforestation, and in order to improve future tropical forest change analyses.

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