The Value of High Resolution Forest Canopy Maps for Implementing Carbon Sequestration Programs in Maryland

Friday, 18 December 2015: 14:10
103 (Moscone South)
Molly Elizabeth Brown1, Phillip C Abbott2, Rachel Hittich2 and Ralph Dubayah1, (1)University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States, (2)Purdue University, Agricultural Economics, West Lafayette, IN, United States
As part of the NASA Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) Program, the University of Maryland has produced 1m resolution forest canopy cover and height maps that have been provided to the State of Maryland. The project used existing, wall-to-wall airborne lidar coverage combined with other remote sensing and field datasets to produce countywide maps of carbon stocks and their uncertainties at 30 m resolution as well as the 1m canopy maps. In this paper, we examine what purposes we identified for the data for decision making in climate mitigation, what use it has already seen, and what potential there is in the future for using the data. The State of Maryland has three programs focused on maintaining or increasing forest cover as part of its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Program (GHGRP) program enacted in 2012, including Woodland Incentive Program (WIP), the Lawn to Woodland Initiative (L2W), and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Forest canopy data from CMS were examined the prospects for both adoption and carbon sequestration of these three initiatives, and their effects on the overall success of the GHGRP. We found that it was difficult it is to pin down “value” that is directly attributable to the data, although we found the data to be important in recognizing the nature and extent of the carbon problem, and in identifying potential solutions to addressing the problem. As in many decision-making contexts, having high quality, accurate data on forest cover is necessary but not sufficient for effective, affordable programs that lead to carbon sequestration in the state.