Historical satellite data used to map Pan-Amazon forest cover

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Abstract

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is well documented and the contributions of Brazilian deforestation to global change have been extensively discussed in both scientific and popular literature [e.g., Skole and Tucker, 1993]. However, deforestation within the non-Brazilian tropics of South America has received much less attention. The Pan-Amazon region covering Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia comprises ˜2 million km2 of tropical forest that is under increasing pressure from logging and development. Wall-to-wall high-resolution forest cover maps are needed to properly document the complex distribution patterns of deforestation in the Pan-Amazon [Tucker and Townshend, 2000]. The Deforestation Mapping Group at the University of Marylands Global Land Cover Facility is using Landsat data to generate tropical forest cover maps in this region (Figure l). The study shows that while rates of forest loss are generally lower than those in Brazil, there are hot spots where deforestation rates run as high as 2,200 km2 yr1.

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