Tropical forest in Martinique. (Credit: Frameme/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Tropical forests provide more than beauty, biodiversity and tourism dollars: They also provide a way to store Earth’s carbon and lessen the effects of global warming. According to a recent University of Lancaster press release, a new technique results in a 74 percent reduction in the cost of assessing carbon stock in human-modified tropical forests.
Researchers examined the components needed to estimate the carbon stock of tropical forest trees and found that at least one component added a great deal of cost to the method but had little effect on the overall carbon assessment: taxonomic identification of the tree. By eliminating the taxonomic identification to species level, researchers found they were able to reduce the cost.
Instead of identifying the tree to the species level and only focusing on its measurement, researchers were still able to extract meaningful data for a stock estimation with acceptable accuracy. This new, cheaper method is extremely important, as many poorer countries with human-modified tropical forests will now be able to perform carbon stock estimates and show the value of conserving their own tropical forests.