The Protocol commits its signatories to reduce levels of greenhouse gases believed to be increasing global warming. Around 25 billion tonnes of extra carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere annually by human activities, mainly through burning of fossil fuels, land clearance and wildfires.
Because deforestation in tropical rainforests accounts for as much as 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, finding ways to curb or halt deforestation was high on the conference’s agenda. One scheme under consideration, called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD), involves developed countries offsetting their emissions by paying developing countries for every hectare of forest they do not cut down.
In order for this scheme to work, systematic monitoring of forests will be crucial.
UNFCCC negotiations in Bali on REDD could offer a crucial opportunity to reduce carbon emissions from tropical peatlands and thus contribute to combating global climate change.
In the future, space-based monitoring tools for tropical deforestation will be available through the EU-led initiative Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), which from 2011 will begin launching the Sentinel satellites enabling operational monitoring.
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