Worldwide, land change is responsible for one-fifth of anthropogenic carbon emissions. In Brazil, three-quarters of carbon emissions originate from land change. This study represents a municipal-scale study of carbon fluxes from vegetation in Rio Branco, Brazil. Land-cover maps of pasture, forest, and secondary growth from 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2003 were produced using an unsupervised classification method (overall accuracy = 89%). Carbon fluxes from land change over the decade of imagery were estimated from transitions between land-cover categories for each time interval. This article presents new methods for estimating emissions reductions from carbon stored in the vegetation that replaces forests (e.g., pasture) and sequestration by new (>10-15 years) forests, which reduced gross emissions by 16, 15, and 22% for the period of 1993-1996, 1996-1999, and 1999-2003, respectively. The methods used in the analysis are broadly applicable and provide a comprehensive characterization of regional-scale carbon fluxes from land change.
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A case study of carbon fluxes from land change in the southwest Brazilian Amazon