The terrestrial ecosystems of the North American continent represent a large reservoir of carbon and a potential sink within the global carbon cycle. The recent State of the Carbon Cycle Report [U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), 2007] identified the critical role these systems may play in mitigating effects of greenhouse gases emitted from fossil fuel combustion. However, there are currently large uncertainties in continental carbon models, and the scientific community's understanding of relevant carbon sources and sinks has been much less complete in Mexico than in Canada and the United States [Birdsey et al., 2007].
One reason for this disparity has been a lack of systematic field data from throughout Mexico. Recently, though, new field and satellite inventory information has become available through two Mexican resource agencies, the Comisión Nacional Forestal (CONAFOR) and the Instituto Nacional de Estadstica y Geografa (INEGI). This information has the potential to support new types of analysis within Mexico and to significantly augment efforts to characterize carbon dynamics at the continental scale. Moreover, because many of the forest types and land use issues present in Mexico can be found throughout Latin America, Mexico's support of carbon monitoring may provide a relevant example as other counties within the region develop their own inventories.