UN-REDD FAO & Brazil’s INPE: Building Capacities for National Satellite Forest Monitoring
The UN-REDD Programme is the United Nations’ collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in developing countries. The Programme was launched in 2008 and builds on the convening role and technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The UN-REDD Programme supports nationally-led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation.
Several components of UN-REDD involve elements of South-South Cooperation (SSC). One such initiative is support to the “National Forest Monitoring Systems Based on Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System.” Through this program, UN-REDD, FAO, and Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) are working side-by-side to support the set-up of national satellite monitoring systems to interested UN-REDD Programme countries. The concept grew out of a 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between FAO and INPE, and recent capacity-building activities include a series of training sessions lead by INPE and FAO experts and attended by representatives from Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Vietnam, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Tanzania, and Zambia. After the centralized trainings, the FAO-UN-REDD Programme is responsible for the in-country implementation and operationalization of national satellite forest monitoring systems to ensure that these systems are adapted to accommodate the national circumstances and conditions.
1. Training participant countries (as of March 2012): Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Zambia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea (PNG)
2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) / UN-REDD Programme
3. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE)
1. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Signed in December 2009, the MOU between FAO and INPE calls for joint action by the two agencies to help establish technological systems and build capacity in UN-REDD Programme partner countries. INPE is willing to share its experience with its Brazilian satellite monitoring system. This technology provides data vital for measuring and reporting on national forests and hence can help to create accurate and comprehensive national forest MRV systems, as required for participation in REDD+. Meanwhile, FAO works to link these scientific trainings with efforts of the country governments.
2. Pilot Training Course: Ecuador, Guyana, and Mexico
The first training course, held in October 2010 at INPE’s headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil, focused on the applicability in UN-REDD Programme partner countries of the Brazilian satellite forest monitoring system, TerraAmazon. Trainers from the UN-REDD Programme (through FAO), and REDD+ country delegations from Ecuador, Guyana, and Mexico participated. The goal of the collaboration in this capacity-building effort was to train technical forestry and IT experts to use the TerraAmazon system, adapt it to individual country needs, and ultimately enhance existing national forest monitoring systems.
3. Second Training Course: DRC, Vietnam, and PNG
The second training programme, which took place in September 2011, set forth a targeted training program for country-level technical experts from DRC, Vietnam, and PNG. Country delegations to the training included computer science experts as well as GIS forestry specialists from national government institutions responsible for the implementation of REDD+ and/or national forest monitoring.
The first part of the training incorporated hands-on exercises using the Brazilian monitoring projects and data. The second part of the training focused on the application of forest monitoring techniques and image processing in home country contexts. The training included practical exercises using a standardized set of Brazilian satellite data as well as respective country-specific data and imagery.
4. In-Country Implementation Assistance for UN-REDD Programme Partner Countries
With the ultimate aim of implementing national MRV programs within participant countries, the trainings provide the opportunity among REDD+ countries to set up autonomous satellite forest monitoring systems that will also be valuable as a tool to report greenhouse gas emissions following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines and Guidance.
In that context, FAO, UN-REDD, and INPE worked with DRC and PNG to launch their national forest monitoring systems in December 2011 at COP17 in Durban. The portals allow all end-users to follow and have open access to available forest data, updated frequently to represent national forest conditions within each country. The use of RS data allows a high frequency of data availability as well as the possibility for wall-to-wall monitoring of the forests in both DRC and PNG. Additionally, the use of National Forest Inventory data augments the RS data in order to fulfill the reporting requirements of the UNFCCC.
Starting in 2012, FAO has been working on the set-up and support of the national satellite monitoring systems of Vietnam, Paraguay, and Zambia as well. The ultimate goal of all these joint efforts is to build up the autonomous capacity of REDD+ countries to monitor their forest-related land cover, generating annual data on deforestation, forest degradation, and forest conversions. This will allow each country to produce national and sub-national forest related change matrices, at the level of each land-use change subcategory that will provide activity data on changes in the use of land in units of area per year.
1. The joint collaboration with INPE for the capacity building has shown that capacity building in most of the REDD+ countries is lacking and in need of a, coordinated, in-depth effort amongst the multiple initiatives ongoing in the countries. Both the transfer of technical skills as well as the introduction of the national forest monitoring systems for REDD+ are a major challenge. FAO and INPE show that by using a freely available platform, namely TerraAmazon, which can be tailored to country conditions, REDD+ countries can get into Phase 2 for the national MRV systems. A major emphasis is the capacity building, in order to make sure that the country becomes autonomous in monitoring its forests for REDD+.