Forests2014, 5(10), 2490-2504; doi:10.3390/f5102490 - published 17 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Fire severity varies with forest composition and structure, reflecting micrometeorology and the fuel complex, but their respective influences are difficult to untangle from observation alone. We quantify the differences in fire weather between different forest types and the resulting differences in modeled fire behavior. Collection of in-stand weather data proceeded during two summer periods in three adjacent stands in northern Portugal, respectively Pinus pinaster (PP), Betula alba (BA), and Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (CL). Air temperature, relative humidity and wind speed varied respectively as CL < PP < BA, PP < CL < BA, and CL < BA < PP. Differences between PP and the other types were greatest during the warmest and driest hours of the day in a sequence of 10 days with high fire danger. Estimates of daytime moisture content of fine dead fuels and fire behavior characteristics for this period, respectively, from Behave and BehavePlus, indicate a CL < BA < PP gradient in fire potential. High stand density in CL and BA ensured lower wind speed and higher fuel moisture content than in PP, limiting the likelihood of an extreme fire environment. However, regression tree analysis revealed that the fire behavior distinction between the three forest types was primarily a function of the surface fuel complex, and more so during extreme fire weather conditions.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2464-2489; doi:10.3390/f5102464 - published 14 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Within the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) framework, the involvement of local communities in national forest monitoring activities has the potential to enhance monitoring efficiency at lower costs while simultaneously promoting transparency and better forest management. We assessed the consistency of forest monitoring data (mostly activity data related to forest change) collected by local experts in the UNESCO Kafa Biosphere Reserve, Ethiopia. Professional ground measurements and high resolution satellite images were used as validation data to assess over 700 forest change observations collected by the local experts. Furthermore, we examined the complementary use of local datasets and remote sensing by assessing spatial, temporal and thematic data quality factors. Based on this complementarity, we propose a framework to integrate local expert monitoring data with satellite-based monitoring data into a National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS) in support of REDD+ Measuring, Reporting and Verifying (MRV) and near real-time forest change monitoring.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2440-2463; doi:10.3390/f5102440 - published 13 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Widespread and prolonged defoliation by the European winter moth, Operophtera brumata L., has occurred in forests of eastern Massachusetts for more than a decade and populations of winter moth continue to invade new areas of New England. This study characterized the forests of eastern Massachusetts invaded by winter moth and related the duration of winter moth defoliation estimated using dendrochronology to observed levels of tree mortality and understory woody plant density. Quercus basal area mortality in mixed Quercus and mixed Quercus—Pinus strobus forests in eastern Massachusetts ranged from 0–30%; mortality of Quercus in these forests was related to site quality and the number of winter moth defoliation events. In addition, winter moth defoliation events lead to a subsequent increase in understory woody plant density. Our results indicate that winter moth defoliation has been an important disturbance in New England forests that may have lasting impacts.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2425-2439; doi:10.3390/f5102425 - published 30 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is an international climate policy instrument that is expected to tap into the large mitigation potential for conservation and better management of the world’s forests through financial flows from developed to developing countries. This paper describes the results and lessons learned from a pioneering REDD+ pilot project in Nepal, which is based on a community forest management approach and which was implemented from 2009–2013 with support from NORAD’s Climate and Forest Initiative. The major focus of the project was to develop and demonstrate an innovative benefit-sharing mechanism for REDD+ incentives, as well as institutionally and socially inclusive approaches to local forest governance. The paper illustrates how community-based monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) and performance-based payments for forest management can be implemented. The lessons on REDD+ benefit sharing from this demonstration project could provide insights to other countries which are starting to engage in REDD+, in particular in South Asia.
Forests2014, 5(10), 2400-2424; doi:10.3390/f5102400 - published 29 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Congo Basin forests are a prime location for implementing REDD+. National REDD+ policy processes are ongoing and many REDD+ pilot initiatives are being demonstrated. However, the level of national engagement, progress and distribution of REDD+ activities varies considerably in the different Congo Basin countries. This study therefore uses a set of criteria to assess national and international policy initiatives and approaches for advancing REDD+ implementation in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC), two countries where more than two thirds of the Congo Basin forests are concentrated. Our findings show that (i) both countries have shown the highest political presence at the international climate negotiations but DRC has invested more in the size of its delegation and side events; (ii) REDD+ donors, initiatives, and funding are disproportionately skewed towards DRC making it technically more advanced; (iii) the high political interest and institutional reforms in DRC favors private sector investments in REDD+ programs; and (iv) the REDD+ policy process is internally-driven in Cameroon with a strong national ownership, while it is externally-driven in DRC with weak national ownership. To advance REDD+, the government of DRC should embark on capacity building programs that ensure the transfer of REDD+ technical know-how from international to national actors while Cameroon needs to speed-up governance reforms and be more flexible in order to attract influential international REDD+ actors. This paper further provides specific recommendations.
Forests2014, 5(9), 2377-2399; doi:10.3390/f5092377 - published 25 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Fine-scale biomass maps offer forest managers the prospect of more detailed and locally accurate information for measuring, reporting and verification activities in contexts, such as sustainable forest management, carbon stock assessments and ecological studies of forest growth and change. In this study, we apply a locally validated method for estimating aboveground woody biomass (AGWB) from Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array-type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) data to produce an AGWB map for the lowland pine savannas of Belize at a spatial resolution of 100 m. Over 90% of these woodlands are predicted to have an AGWB below 60 tha−1, with the average woody biomass of these savannas estimated at 23.5 tha−1. By overlaying these spatial estimates upon previous thematic mapping of national land cover, we derive representative average biomass values of ~32 tha−1 and ~18 tha−1 for the previously qualitative classes of “denser” and “less dense” tree savannas. The predicted average biomass, from the mapping for savannas woodlands occurring within two of Belize’s larger protected areas, agree closely with previous biomass estimates for these areas based on ground surveys and forest inventories (error ≤20%). However, biomass estimates derived for these protected areas from two biomass maps produced at coarser resolutions (500 m and 1000 m) from global datasets overestimated biomass (errors ≥275% in each dataset). The finer scale biomass mapping of both protected and unprotected areas provides evidence to suggest that protection has a positive effect upon woody biomass, with the mean AGWB higher in areas protected and managed for biodiversity (protected and passively managed (PRPM), 29.5 tha−1) compared to unprotected areas (UPR, 23.29 tha−1). These findings suggest that where sufficient ground data exists to build a reliable local relationship to radar backscatter, the more detailed biomass mapping that can be produced from ALOS and similar satellite data at resolutions of ~100 m provides more accurate and spatially detailed information that is more appropriate for supporting the management of forested areas of ~10,000 ha than biomass maps that can be produced from lower resolution, but freely available global data sets.