Expanding its environmental policy to include the promotion and protection of tropical forest regeneration would be a strategic and timely decision for Brazil. Restoring ecosystems is key to strengthening conservation measures and improving ecosystem services and can generate significant environmental and financial gains. Brazil is in a unique position to contribute to this effort since it holds vast amounts of degraded and deforested lands in tropical regions. But secondary vegetation—that which grows in previously deforested areas—is in a completely vulnerable position. Currently, areas of regeneration are not detected by any official system that monitors tropical forest cover, which means that the country lacks access to essential data for policy design and implementation in the areas of conservation and sustainable development.
Brazil needs systematic, regular, and frequent monitoring of secondary vegetation to spur tropical forest regeneration and strengthen its protection. The main obstacle to achieving this has nothing to do with technology. The country has access to the technology and technical expertise needed to monitor secondary vegetation. But building systems that monitor regeneration will depend on lawmakers understanding how important it is to protect this vegetation, and above all, how relatively simple it would be for the country to implement systems to do so.
This paper offers recommendations on how to move forward in developing remote systems to monitor secondary vegetation.
- Establish clear criteria for classifying secondary vegetation in remote sensing imagery.
- Develop two complementary systems to ensure monitoring of secondary vegetation in the short, medium, and long term.
- Use existing remote sensing imagery to build a preliminary model of the systems.
- Develop and maintain a careful communication strategy with policymakers and the general public.