Carbon emissions from deforestation


Global forests store carbon, which can be released as carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere from degradation or deforestation, driving climate change. Between 2001-2020, global forests lost 10% area coverage, or 411 million hectares, releasing 165 Gt of carbon dioxide emissions (UMD & WRI, 2022). There is an increasing trend where high losses on tropical primary forests are shifting areas, like the Amazon rainforest, from a carbon sink to a carbon source (Bacchini et al., 2017). Drivers of this loss are attributed to wildfires, shifting agriculture, forestry, urbanization and commodity driven deforestation (Curtis et al., 2019).

Rationale for Monitoring

Monitoring deforestation is the first step to understand the cause of tree cover loss and to plan interventions for preventing it.


Refer to the Forest and Carbon Change Tool for the tutorial to use this methodology and data.

Indicator and data needs

Trends.Earth allows the user to analyze the area of forest cover, carbon stored in forests, forest loss and estimated emissions from deforestation within an area of interest in terrestrial forests anywhere on Earth. The user is first prompted to select the years for monitoring their specified area for the analysis. In order to define the baseline forest area, they will assign a threshold to define forests.


The definition of canopy cover should be changed to accommodate the specific area of interest.

The dataset maps global tree cover based on percent canopy cover in the year 2000. Many studies cite 25% - 30% threshold to define forest, however this definition can change for arid regions. For more information, please see the publication: Quantification of global gross forest cover "

The region is then selected using the pre-existing national/sub-national boundaries, a coordinate or a custom uploaded dataset.


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Users can set up *Advanced configuration to use a different biomass dataset, or upload a custom biomass dataset and to select the method for calculating the root to shoot ratio for below ground biomass.


The table below list the biomass datasets available in Trends.Earth:


The results provide annual breakdowns of forest cover, forest loss, carbon (tC) stored and carbon emissions (tCO2) for the region, summarizing the baseline and final year land cover, forest area loss, carbon loss and carbon emissions over the entire period. There are two spatial outputs from the analysis. The first is the dataset visualizing the estimated change in biomass:


The second is the forest loss layer for the region: