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3D map reveals value of forest carbon

The world’s forests may contain more carbon than previously realised, research by a university spin-out company suggests.

Environmental survey company Carbomap has carried out a 3D analysis of a Costa Rican forest.

It found that the carbon content of the forest’s trees is more than 20 per cent higher than previous estimates carried out using traditional satellite methods.

The finding has implications for carbon accounting and carbon offset trading, in which forests are assigned a value according to their carbon content.

This can be traded in exchange for preserving the trees.

Financial shortfall

Carbomap scientists say their finding suggests an $800 billion shortfall in the value of protecting the world’s forests.

Researchers arrived at their estimate using data collected by NASA's LVIS airborne laser scanning system, to better estimate the above-ground carbon stocks in a specific area.

We have developed a unique processing tool that allows us to extract very detailed information about the forest.

Professor Iain WoodhouseFounder and CEO, Carbomap

Improved monitoring

Countries around the world are increasingly seeking to protect their forest assets and reduce deforestation through United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change initiatives.

These include the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation-plus (REDD-plus) framework.

In order to quantify the financial value of the carbon stored in the forests, for the benefit of forest carbon investors, and certification schemes, more than $2.7bn is already spent annually on forest monitoring.

Currently, the most common methods of measuring forests are ground-based measurement, analysis of satellite data or single-colour airborne laser scanning.

Carbomap is currently engaged in an equity crowdfunding campaign, hosted on the UK crowdfunding platform ShareIn, to roll-out an airborne 3D laser scanning technology solution to monitor the health and value of the world’s forests.

Satellite data cannot provide information on the vertical dimension of the forest, such as canopy height and layering, which are crucial to accurate measurement of the carbon, the biodiversity and the underlying ground surface.

Professor Iain WoodhouseFounder and CEO, Carbomap