14 February 2012
By combining airborne laser technology, satellite mapping, and ground-based plot surveys, a team of researchers has produced the first large-scale, high-resolution estimates of carbon stocks in remote and fragile Madagascar. The group has shown that it is possible to map carbon stocks in rugged geographic regions and that this type of carbon monitoring can be successfully employed to support conservation and climate-change mitigation under the United Nations initiative on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).
Madagascar has unique flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth, but habitat destruction has transformed its tropical forests, leaving a patchwork of different landscapes. The rugged and remote terrain has made it very difficult to measure vegetation carbon content via traditional plot sample methods. Plots alone are impracticable for large sample sizes and often do not account for the great degree of landscape variability.