It cannot be emphasized enough that satellite data, no matter how accurate in resolution, must be linked to ground-based estimates of the forest carbon stocks in areas prior to their deforestation or degradation. This information would be available if carbon stock data had been recorded in plots established in forested and deforested areas or, if ground-based data were available, for similar strata.
It is unlikely that there is sufficient time to gather a great deal more field inventory data before the Kyoto first commitment period expires in 2012. Therefore it is imperative that the approach recommended by Gibbs et al. (2007) and Olander et al. (2008) is followed to make the most of existing data available:
1. Compile existing broad forest data across the tropics by forest type and condition.
2. Link satellite imagery with strata of forest type and condition.
3. Apply the carbon stock data to strata identified from the imagery.
4. Carry out sampling of strata identified by imagery for which data is deficient.
5. Ensure transparency of accuracy/error of data.
Grant programs will be crucial to assist developing countries in using a combination of data and technology in developing comprehensive 'wall to wall' information on carbon in forest strata and rates of deforestation. Unless such credible scenarios can be developed for tropical deforesting countries, REDD will not become a reality.
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