Review of Priority Research & Development Topics: R&D related to the use of Remote Sensing in National Forest Monitoring

A. Mitchell, D.H. Hoekman

    Research output: Book/ReportReportAcademic


    This document reviews the potential of the various remote sensing-derived forest map products that can be used in implementing and improving national forest monitoring systems8 and help meet the requirements of the IPCC Guidelines. It identifies any research and development topics that need to be addressed to ensure that these products can be widely used by forest countries around the world. The Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) aims to facilitate the supply and use of earth observation information, so that all countries can better manage their forest resources. Initially GFOI aims to support countries’ national forest monitoring systems in accordance with the IPCC Guidelines such as the systems needed to implement the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) programme on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation; forest degradation; conservation of forest carbon stocks; sustainable management of forests; and enhancement of forest carbon stocks). GFOI was set up by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and has the active support and involvement of 13 space agencies (and data providers). It has been explicitly endorsed by 90 countries plus the EU and 67 international organisations. GFOI engages and coordinates with key organisations and institutions such as the UNFCCC, FAO, World Bank and IPCC as well as developing country participants. GFOI developed from the GEO Forest Carbon Tracking project which successfully demonstrated its approach through selected national demonstrator countries and which started in 2008.GFOI has identified a list of thematic forest map product specifications (see next section) that can be derived from a combination of Earth Observation and ground measurement data, and that are needed for countries to measure and report their changes in carbon stocks in forests and the subsequent greenhouse emissions. A country may not need to use all of these products: their choice will depend on their national circumstances and the additional objectives they have. This review considers these products and for each determines what, if any, additional research and development may be needed before the products can be widely used and recommended for use in long term systematic forest monitoring. These R&D topics are then prioritised by both needs expressed by countries and by the IPCC ´s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory good practice requirements of transparency, completeness, consistency, comparability and accuracy, as endorsed by the UNFCCC. The need for forest information may extend beyond NFMS, MRV, and GHGI objectives. Indeed, the nine societal benefit areas of GEO need some type of information about the forests. Information about the status of forest resources is used in forestry operations, natural resource assessment, conservation and reserve planning and illegal logging detection systems. Similar forest map products may be useful for biodiversity initiatives such as GEOBON. The GEO Initiative provides a unique opportunity for coordination of data and information between different sectors. Global Initiatives such as GEO and GEOBON should consult on cross-cutting information needs and the possibility of generating a suite of forest map products that serve different purposes across sectors. The current report is the first step in the development of a comprehensive R&D Plan. This Plan will be further developed by the GFOI Office, based on inputs from demonstrator countries, interested organisations and relevant research expertise. Priority Research Topics will be presented to donors for funding.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationGeneva, Switzerland
    Number of pages163
    ISBN (Print)9789299004753
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Publication series

    NameGEO-GFOI R&D-document, version 1
    No.GEO-GFOI R&D-document, version 1


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