Expanding Commercial Agriculture without Clearing Pristine Rainforest
Dec 24, 2014
RESOLVE’s Dr. Eric Dinerstein and colleagues at Woods Hole Research Center, World Wildlife Fund, and University of Minnesota have identified 125 million hectares (309 million acres) of degraded lands in the tropics that could support expansion of commercial agriculture for another 25-50 years without clearing more pristine rainforest.
In a paper published in the journal Conservation Letters, the researchers defined degraded rainforests as those with an above-ground carbon density (carbon stored in vegetation) of 40 or fewer metric tons per hectare. Intact rainforest has roughly 250 metric tons/ha.
This simple, transparent measure of carbon stock can be easily monitored using remote sensing technologies and could help agricultural producers, governments, investors, environmental stewards, and consumers to invest, plant, harvest, govern, and buy tropical agricultural commodities more responsibly.