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  1. Carbon losses from forest degradation and disturbances are significant and growing sources of emissions in the Brazilian Amazon. Between 2003 and 2019, degradation and disturbance accounted for 44% of forest carbon losses in the region, compared with 56% from deforestation (forest clearing). We found that land tenure played a decisive role in explaining these carbon losses, with Undesignated Public Forests and Other Lands (e.g., private properties) accounting for the majority (82%) of losses during the study period. Illegal deforestation and land grabbing in Undesignated Public Forests widespread and increasingly are important drivers of forest carbon emissions from the region. In contrast, indigenous Territories and Protected Natural Areas had the lowest emissions, demonstrating their effectiveness in preventing deforestation and maintaining carbon stocks. These trends underscore the urgent need to develop reliable systems for monitoring and reporting on carbon losses from forest degradation and disturbance. Together with improved governance, such actions will be crucial for Brazil to reduce pressure on standing forests; strengthen Indigenous land rights; and design effective climate mitigation strategies needed to achieve its national and international climate commitments.
  2. Abstract

    Seasonally dry tropical forests (SDTFs) account for one-third of the interannual variability of global net primary productive (NPP). Large-scale shifts in dry tropical forest structure may thus significantly affect global CO2fluxes in ways that are not fully accounted for in current projections. This study quantifies how changing climate might reshape one of the largest SDTFs in the world, the Caatinga region of northeast Brazil. We combine historical data and future climate projections under different representative concentration pathways (RCPs), together with spatially explicit aboveground biomass estimates to establish relationships between climate and vegetation distribution. We find that physiognomies, aboveground biomass, and climate are closely related in the Caatinga—and that the region’s bioclimatic envelope is shifting rapidly. From 2008–2017, more than 90% of the region has shifted to a dryer climate space compared to the reference period 1950–1979. An ensemble of global climate models (based on IPCC AR5) indicates that by the end of the 21st century the driest Caatinga physiognomies (thorn woodlands to non-vegetated areas) could expand from 55% to 78% (RCP 2.6) or as much as 87% (RCP8.5) of the region. Those changes would correspond to a decrease of 30%–50% of the equilibrium aboveground biomass by the end ofmore »the century (RCP 2.6 and RCP8.5, respectively). Our results are consistent with historic vegetation shifts reported for other SDTFs. Projected changes for the Caatinga would have large-scale impacts on the region’s biomass and biodiversity, underscoring the importance of SDTFs for the global carbon budget. Understanding such changes as presented in this study will be useful for regional planning and could help mitigate their negative social impacts.

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