Associate Research Professor Dr. Fernando Sedano, along with GEOG researchers Dr. Laura Duncanson, Dr. Ritvik Sahajpal, and Dr. George Hurtt, published a paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters entitled "Monitoring forest degradation from charcoal production with historical Landsat imagery. A case study in southern Mozambique." In this paper, the authors present a proof of concept for the feasibility of medium-resolution Earth observation data to monitor forest degradation from charcoal production in their Mozambique case-study.
The full abstract of the paper is presented below:
We used historical Landsat imagery to monitor forest degradation from charcoal production in the main supplying region of the Mozambican capital, Maputo, during a ten-year period (2008–2018). We applied a change detection method that exploits temporal NDVI dynamics associated with charcoal production. This forest degradation temporal sequence exposes the magnitude and the spatial and temporal dynamics of charcoal production, which is the main forest degradation driver in sub-Saharan Africa. The annual area under charcoal production has been steadily increasing since 2008 and reached 11 673 ha in 2018. The total forest degraded extent in the study area during the 10-year study period covered 79 630 ha, which represents 68% of the available mopane woodlands in 2008. Only 5% of the available mopane woodlands area remain undisturbed in the study area. Total gross carbon emissions associated charcoal production during this 10-year period were estimated in 1.13 Mt. These results mark forest degradation from charcoal production as the main driver of forest cover change in southern Mozambique. They also denote that, while charcoal production may be relatively localized in space, its implications for forest cover change and carbon emissions in a sub-Saharan African context are relevant at larger geographical scales. This study represents a proof of concept of the feasibility of medium resolution Earth observation data to monitor forest degradation from charcoal production in the context of the growing urban energy demand. It also highlights the potential opportunities to improve REDD+ monitoring, reporting and verification efforts in sub-Saharan Africa as a first step toward designing effective management and policy interventions.