Tropical forest degradation is a significant source of carbon emissions due to selective logging, fragmentation and other disturbance factors. However, methods for mapping and monitoring pan‐tropical forest degradation are still in their infancy. Here we present a new and automated approach to differentiate forests likely to be affected by degradation dynamics from more structurally intact forests, referred to as hinterland forests.
Inputs required for hinterland forest mapping include the extent of the initial forest cover and subsequent forest cover loss data, in this case global‐scale Landsat‐derived tree cover and stand‐replacement disturbance maps. User‐defined parameters employed to generate the extent and change of hinterland forest include: (1) minimum size of hinterland forest patch, (2) minimum corridor width, (3) distance from disturbance, and (4) extant history.
Hinterland forest extent was mapped using forest cover loss data from 2000 to 2012 and hinterland forest loss was quantified from 2007 to 2013. Lidar‐modelled forest height data were shown to be different within and outside hinterland forests, demonstrating the biophysical basis of the hinterland concept in discriminating likely degradation. Overall, hinterland forests experienced an 18% decline from 2007 to 2013. Regional variation in hinterland forest extent and loss was high. Data on 2013 pan‐tropical hinterland forest extent can be downloaded from http://glad.geog.umd.edu/hinterland/index.html and viewed online at http://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science‐2013‐global‐forest.
The largest extent of hinterland forests and of hinterland forest loss was found in Latin America, followed by Africa and Southeast Asia, respectively. The highest proportional loss of hinterland forest occurred in Southeast Asia, followed by Africa and Latin America, respectively. Nearly 95% of all 2013 hinterland forests were found in 17 of the 69 tropical forest countries studied. The extent and loss of hinterland forest can be an input to national monitoring and management programmes focused on forest carbon stocks, biodiversity conservation and other ecosystem services.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.