Determining dynamics of spatial and temporal structures of forest edges in South Western Amazonia
Forest edges in the Amazon are very dynamic with ongoing deforestation adding new edges as older edges are eroded. Rates of edge erosion and the composition of edge ages, together with distance from edges, are very important factors in determining the magnitude of forest degradation such as biomass collapse and carbon flux. However, we lack an understanding of how these factors change through time and over the different stages of deforestation. In this study, we quantify the spatial and temporal structures of forest edge in Rondonia, southwestern Amazon, by analyses of 22 years of annual satellite imagery, and discuss the implications for biomass dynamics and forest degradation caused by edges. Our results from three different stages of deforestation (early, intermediate and advanced) reveal that more than 50% of forest edges were eliminated in the first four years after edge creation and only 20% of edges survived more than 10 years. High edge erosion rates in the first year imply that many edges disappear before going through the process of edge-induced biomass collapse. At the early stage of deforestation, young forest edges are predominant, while at the advanced deforestation stage more than 50% of total edges are >10 years old. Rapid erosion is more prevalent in early stages, when young forest edges dominate the landscape. Edge-related biomass collapse is substantially more advanced in heavily deforested regions where forests are mostly surrounded mostly by older edges, but relatively few edges remain at this point. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.