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Historic Land Use and Carbon Estimates for South and Southeast Asia: 1880-1980 (1994) (NDP-046)

DOI: 10.3334/CDIAC/lue.ndp046

data Data   PDF PDF


J. F. Richards and E. P. Flint


This data base contains estimates of land use change and the carbon content of vegetation for South and Southeast Asia for the years 1880, 1920, 1950, 1970, and 1980. These data were originally collected for climate modelers so they could reduce the uncertainty associated with the magnitude and time course of historical land use change and of carbon release. For this data base, South and Southeast Asia is defined as encompassing nearly 8 × 106 km2 of the earth's land surface and includes the countries of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Kampuchea (Cambodia), Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The most important change in land use over this 100-year period was the conversion of 107 × 106 ha of forest/woodland to categories with lower biomass. Land thus transformed accounted for 13.5% of the total area of the study region. The estimated total carbon content of live vegetation in South and Southeast Asia has dropped progressively, from 59 × 109 Mg in 1880 to 27 × 109 Mg in 1980.

Throughout the study period, the carbon stock in forests was greater than the carbon content in all other categories combined, although its share of the total declined progressively from 81% in 1880 to 73% in 1980.

The data base was developed in Lotus 1-2-3TM by using a sequential bookkeeping model. The source data were obtained at the local and regional level for each country from official agricultural and economic statistics (e.g., the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization); historical geographic and demographic texts, reports, and articles; and any other available source. Because of boundary changes through time and disparities between the validity, availability, and scale of the data for each country, the data were aggregated into 94 ecological zones. The resulting data base contains land use and carbon information for 94 ecological zones and national totals for 13 countries.

The directory to which the above link leads provides 90 Lotus 1-2-3TM files, three ARC/INFOTM export files, and five ASCII data files. We advise users to use the file transfer protocol (FTP) to download the binary spreadsheet *.wk1 files; please consult the ndp046.txt documentation file or Accessing CDIAC via FTP for instructions.

In addition to these, a descriptive file that explains the contents and format of each data file and four FORTRAN and SAS TM retrieval programs for use with the ASCII data files are included.