2016 Activities

New Methods and Guidance Document Released

The second edition of the GFOI Methods and Guidance Document (MGD 2.0) has been published and is available for download as a PDF and for viewing through the REDDcompass online portal. By linking UNFCCC reporting requirements with the IPCC’s good practice guidance, the MGD provides a systematic workflow approach to guide countries through the complex process of developing forest monitoring and MRV systems for REDD+. The MGD 2.0 provides a full update and extension of the first edition and presents improved and extended methods and guidance. It will form a key element of GFOI partners’ assistance to developing countries. The document is currently available only in English, but French and Spanish translations will be available by the end of the year. The GFOI Office would like to acknowledge the significant contributions from many partners in the developing the MGD 2.0. In particular we would like to acknowledge the late Prof. Jim Penman. We hope that Jim is looking down on us and feeling an immense sense of pride and satisfaction. As a mark of respect, the MGD 2.0 has been dedicated to Jim in recognition of his longstanding contribution and commitment to the MGD and broader GFOI community.

Innovative Solutions for Monitoring Forest Carbon Advancing Climate Action through Improved Information: A SilvaCarbon Research Workshop
September 28-29, 2016: Washington, DC, USA

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations have underscored the importance of establishing transparent national forest monitoring systems. These systems produce vital information on forest carbon stocks and dynamics to support a wide range of national and international objectives, including REDD+ and the implementation and tracking of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the UNFCCC. According to international guidance, national forest monitoring systems should integrate both remote sensing and forest inventory approaches for generating accurate estimates of forest carbon emissions and removals, and should be based on replicable and consistent methods.

SilvaCarbon works with developing countries to build technical capacities for forest carbon monitoring and strengthen the underlying science. Since 2011, the program has provided targeted technical assistance to 21 countries to support the design and implementation of national forest monitoring systems and measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems for REDD+. Through extensive engagement with in-country practitioners and international experts, SilvaCarbon has identified critical research needs that must be addressed in order to overcome the current and future technical challenges facing country partners.

In response to those needs, the SilvaCarbon Global Program has awarded eleven research grants to U.S. and international scientists focused on applying cutting-edge technologies and methodologies for measuring and monitoring forest carbon. This research, now complete, addresses key knowledge gaps relevant to REDD+ implementation, UNFCCC reporting, and other efforts which require improved data and information on forest dynamics and associated carbon dynamics. SilvaCarbon is organizing an international workshop in Washington, D.C. to share results from this research, assess remaining knowledge gaps, and advance research implementation.

Workshop Objectives: As countries progress in the development of their forest carbon monitoring and MRV systems, it is becoming increasingly important to facilitate the exchange of technical knowledge and experiences. This exchange is essential for guiding future research, developing practical guidance and capacity-building resources, and disseminating new tools and methods that are appropriate to countries’ unique needs and circumstances. With this in mind, the workshop will bring together scientists, international cooperation agencies, and national practitioners to increase global understanding of emerging tools and methods for measuring and monitoring forest carbon. The event will foster learning and collaboration through a combination of presentations, focused discussions, and interactive activities, and will seek to identify priorities for potential future research and develop an action plan for improving the underlying science of national forest monitoring in REDD+ countries.

The research covered at the workshop spans array of critical issues in forest carbon monitoring, including the detection of forest degradation – a key challenge for many countries – using remote sensing applications, ground monitoring applications, and a combination of data sources.

The specific objectives of the workshop are to:

  • Present the SilvaCarbon research findings, including new methods and approaches as well as the implications of operationalizing those methods and approaches in SilvaCarbon countries. This information will be valuable for future capacity-building and will support planning for stakeholders involved in REDD+ monitoring.
  • Based on the research findings, identify gaps, inconsistencies, uncertainties, and other obstacles to the effective integration of global, national, and subnational monitoring efforts.
  • Discuss and document the impact of the research on:
    • Existing and upcoming guidance to countries regarding forest and terrestrial carbon monitoring
    • Capacity-building efforts to strengthen and advance the development of national forest and landscape monitoring systems
    • Research needs and opportunities, and links to partners’ research activities, such as those of the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) Research and Development component

The expected outcomes of the workshop include a set of presentations and discussion materials that will be made available online, and a workshop report that synthesizes the research findings with the goal of improving the guidance to be provided by the various workshop partners to countries and other users.

REDD+ Monitoring, and Measurement, Reporting and Verification workshop “Training the Trainers” Second Regional Workshop, South America
July 4 – 7, 2016: Lima, Peru

The performance-based climate mitigation framework REDD+ encourages the reduction of emissions related to deforestation and forest degradation, and removals through enhanced forest carbon stocks and improved forest management. These activities should be measured and reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which requires methodologies for estimating actual emissions and removals and for establishing the reference level. UNFCCC requests countries to build robust and transparent national forest monitoring systems to facilitate the measurement and reporting of forest related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, following the guidelines and guidance from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Various training materials and tools are available that aim to support and facilitate country processes with the development of capacities for implementing a national system for monitoring forest area and area changes, the associated carbon stocks and changes; and for measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of REDD+ activities. To make these materials more accessible for countries and REDD+ / forest monitoring professionals, four (4) regional one week workshops are planned in three different continents: one in South-East Asia (in English), one in Latin America (in Spanish) and two in Africa (in French and English). The basic concept of these workshop is to “train the trainers”. A selected group of around 35 participants from countries in each region (2-3 per country) will attend with the aim of further disseminating the gained knowledge and insights and train other relevant people who are involved in REDD+ monitoring and reporting in their country, in order to further build their capacities. The workshops will be jointly organized in close collaboration with the different training and capacity building initiatives from World Bank FCPF, GFOI, Silvacarbon, FAO/UN-REDD,REDD+ partnership, Wageningen University, GOFC-GOLD, and Boston University. Organization of the workshops will be under the coordinating leadership of Wageningen University.

Workshop Objectives: This workshop from 4 to 7 July in Lima, Peru, was the second of the series of four regional workshops. The aim of the workshop is to build upon existing expertise and experiences and to use available training materials and tools in a broad capacity development context to help build a countries’ capacities and to spread the use and increase the impact of available knowledge and tools.

After the successful completion of the workshop, participants should be able to become ‘multipliers’ by further disseminating the knowledge and experience gained and train other relevant people who are involved in REDD+ monitoring and reporting in their country. In the workshops, participants learn about the different training materials and tools that are available and how these different materials all fit together in the “bigger picture” of REDD+ MRV capacity building. Participants will also know how and where to make request for further appropriate training and make use of available tools for implementation. A direct interaction with leading international experts present at the workshop will be facilitated so specific issues can be discussed face to face.

Joint GFOI / GOFC-GOLD / CONABIO /SilvaCarbon R&D Expert and Capacity Building workshop on:
Regional solutions to forest type stratification and characterising the forest state for national forest monitoring and carbon emissions reporting (REDD+ MRV and LULUCF)
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico

The workshop brought together a community of REDD+ monitoring technical experts and regional practitioners to discuss the evolving needs and current state of art on forest stratification mapping. Working group sessions helped identify the gaps and obstacles that hinder progress, and assisted in developing an action plan towards improving the underlying science and national forest monitoring in REDD+ countries.

Specifically, the workshop aimed to:

  • Assess the evolving needs from the international level and REDD+ countries for generating and reporting on specific forest types
  • Give regional practitioners an opportunity to present their national and regional forest monitoring systems and discuss the current challenges on decision making and translating what is mapped in reporting
  • Present and share experiences on approaches to mapping nationally relevant forest types
  • Present and share experiences on characterising the forest state (e.g., degradation, regrowth)
  • Discuss adequate approaches for product validation and for the related uncertainty assessment in carbon emissions reporting
  • Discuss important gaps and obstacles and opportunities for future improvements documented in an action plan for further R&D and demonstration activities
  • Synthesize the findings towards improved guidance to countries and REDD+ practitioners
Radar for Resource Assessment Workshop
June 14 – 16, 2016: Quito, Ecuador

A three day workshop on radar remote sensing for resource assessment and land cover mapping took was hosted the Ministry for the Environment of the Government of Ecuador (Ministerio del Ambiente de Ecuador-MAE). Dr. Barry Haack and Miss Coral Roig-Silva, USGS scientist used a combination of powerpoint lectures with hands-on exercises based upon ENVI image processing software for the workshop. Most of the workshop spaceborne optical and radar imagery was of several locations in Peru. There were 14 participants from multiple departments within MAE.

First Regional GFOI Forest Monitoring Workshop for Central America Report
June 2 – 3, 2016: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

This was the first regional GFOI workshop on forest monitoring in Central America. The workshop objectives were to:

  • Increase the understanding of the current status remote sensing data use to map forest cover in Central America
  • Introduce different satellite missions around the globe (COVE tool)
  • Present all GFOI capacity building efforts supporting forest cover mapping for reporting to REDD+
  • Discuss and compare interoperability of different sets of satellite images
REDD+ Monitoring and Measurement, Reporting and Verification workshop Training the Trainers- First regional workshop
April 18 - 22, 2016: Bangkok, Thailand

GFOI partners hosted a Training the Trainers workshop in Bangkok from 18 to 22 April 2016. The workshop assembled a group of regional leaders and provided targeted training in the use of the GFOI’s new and overarching REDDcompass, the training modules from the GOFC-GOLD source book, the World Bank’s Decision Support Tool (DST) and various other linked products. REDDcompass is a new web application that is based on the content of the GFOI’s Methods and Guidance Documentation (MGD). This was the first of three planned workshops on this topic for 2016, the others are planned for Peru and Ethiopia later in the year.

Radar for Resource Assessment Workshop
March 6 - 9, 2016: Lima, Peru

A three day workshop on radar remote sensing for resource assessment and land cover mapping took was hosted and held in facilities of MINAM, the Ministry for the Environment of the Government of Peru (Ministerio del Ambiente). Dr. Barry Haack and Miss Coral Roig-Silva, USGS scientist used a combination of powerpoint lectures with hands-on exercises based upon ENVI image processing software for the workshop. Most of the workshop spaceborne optical and radar imagery was of several locations in Peru. There were 14 participants from multiple departments within MINAM.

Training on Community-Based Forest Monitoring Using Mobile Devices
February 8 - 12, 2016: Puerto Ocopa, Rio Tambo, Junin, Peru

During the week of February 8th, Dr. Arun Pratihast from the Wageningen University traveled to Peru to meet with partners and to continue working with communities. The community of Puerto Ocopa hosted members from the Laguna Linda Laguna and San Pedro de Pichanaz Communities to receive training in the use of mobile devices for forest monitoring and mapping. The project is a collaborative effort in partnership with the "Programa Bosques" from the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) and CIFOR. Data collection efforts are currently in place. Findings are expected to be published later in the year.

14th GEO GFOI Workshop on Forest Monitoring in the Americas on optimizing plot design for the estimation of forest attributes and integration with remote sensors
February 1 - 5, 2016: Tarapoto, Peru

The motivation of this workshop was to discuss the theory behind plot design for different situations, and to try to reach an optimal solution for situations of different interests and little funding. The workshop was a mix of technical presentations from experts in the field, group discussions, as well as interactive exercises that gave the participants a practical understanding of the plot design concept. In addition, a field exercise was carried out that included data collection to assess the relationship between field data and data from remote sensors.

Fourteenth GFOI Americas Regional Forest Monitoring Workshop: Forest Inventory design
January 25 - 29, 2016: Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines

Forest inventory plot design is a subject great debate. Not only do inventory experts debate the proper shape, size, and number, configuration, and separation distance between subplots, but remote sensing specialists also consider training and accuracy assessment plot characteristics critical to their work.

Forest inventory plots should thus be designed to meet both inventory and remote sensing data needs in the most efficient way. However, there are often competing interests in plot design. For example, inventory efficiency might be maximized with small clusters of plots separated by small distances, whereas remote sensing specialists might prefer plots that are large and correspond with remote sensing pixel configuration. Similarly, ecologists interested in species diversity might prefer plots more suited for the generation of species-area curves. The motivation for the workshop is thus to discuss the theory behind inventory plot design in different concepts, and to attempt to arrive at common ground when considering competing interests in the face of a limited budget. The structure of the workshop included a mixture of technical presentations of work in this area from experts, group discussion, and interactive, hands-on experiments aimed at giving participants a practical understanding of the concepts of plot design. A field activity that involves discussion of plot design principles and collection of data aimed at assessing relationships between ground data and remotely sense imagery also was included.

Fifth GFOI Asia Regional Forest Monitoring Workshop: Accuracy Assessment of Land Cover/Land Use Maps
January 25 - 29, 2016: Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines

The overall goal of the workshop was to provide participants from the SilvaCarbon South and Southeast Asia countries with an understanding of past and ongoing forest cover map accuracy assessment efforts and to provide guidance for enhancing future activities.

The Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia are currently engaged in accuracy assessments of their existing maps with support from FAO and SilvaCarbon. At this workshop, practical issues identified through this ongoing work will be discussed in more detail, including area estimation, uncertainty analysis (for different tiers) and forest stratification. The workshop will also share the latest international guidance provided by GFOI’s Methods and Guidance Documentation (MGD) on accuracy assessment/area estimation and will an offer opportunity to discuss how the current efforts in the countries can be aligned accordingly. The information shared at the workshop will form the basis for discussing national-level activities related to accuracy assessment and area estimation of land cover change in all participating countries.