Awards Carbon Forests Visual abstract

★ Smith, Charlotte C. // Secondary forest carbon stock


Designed to accompany my recently submitted research paper, this visual abstract outlines some of the key findings of the first chapter of my thesis, which calculates the extent, age and carbon stock of secondary forests in Brazil. It is intended for a specialist audience, who are well versed in environmental science but may not be experts in tropical forest ecology specifically.


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Secondary forests, which grow on abandoned agricultural land, are increasing in the Brazilian Amazon and have been cited as an important mechanism for reducing net carbon emissions. However, our understanding of the contribution of secondary forests to the Amazonian carbon balance is incomplete, and it is unclear to what extent emissions from old-growth deforestation have been offset by secondary forest growth. Using annual land cover data, we mapped the extent of secondary forests in the Brazilian Amazon and calculated their carbon stock. We found that in 2017 there was 129,361 km2 of secondary forest, which stored 0.33±0.05 billion Mg of above-ground carbon. However, despite covering an area almost the size of England, secondary forests in the Brazilian Amazon have offset just 8.79% of old-growth emissions since 1985. Our results demonstrate that old-growth forest loss remains the most important factor determining the carbon balance in the Brazilian Amazon.

Charlotte C. Smith

Charlotte C. Smith

Charlotte’s research interests lie in conservation, ecology and climate change, with a particular focus on tropical forests. Fusing big data analysis with environmental science, she analyses Amazonian land cover data to track the expansion of secondary forests and to calculate their carbon stock.

Charlotte’s Envision profile

Charlotte’s LinkedIn profile


Twitter: @cs422

Organisation: Lancaster University