Assessing and monitoring forest degradation under national Monitoring, Verification and Reporting (MRV) systems in developing countries have been difficult to implement due to the lack of adequate technical and operational capacities. This study aims at providing methodological options for monitoring forest degradation in developing countries by using freely available remote sensing, forest inventory and ancillary data. We propose using Canopy Cover to separate, through a time series analysis approach using Landsat Imagery, forest areas with changes over time from sectors that report a “stable condition”. Above ground Biomass and Net Primary Productivity derived from remote sensing data were used to define thresholds for areas considered degraded. The approach was tested in a semi-deciduous tropical forest in the Southeast of Mexico. The results showed that higher rates of forest degradation, 1596 to 2865 ha year−1
, occur in areas with high population densities. The results also showed that 43% of the forests of the study area remain with no evident signs of degradation, as determined by the indicators used. The approach and procedures followed allowed for the identification and mapping of the temporal and spatial distribution of forest degradation, based on the indicators selected, and they are expected to serve as the basis for operations of the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative in Mexico and other developing countries, provided appropriate adaptations of the methodology are made to the conditions of the area in turn.
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