VTT introduces deforestation monitoring method for tropical regions

Nov 26, 2013

Halting deforestation in tropical regions requires verification of forest conditions. VTT has developed a new satellite image based method for accurate assessment of tropical forest cover. Part of the EU's seventh framework programme, the ReCover project has involved using satellite imaging to map forest cover in sites in Mexico, Guyana, Columbia, Congo and the Fiji Islands over a period of up to 20 years.

The REDD programme is the United Nations' collaborative initiative designed to combat deforestation in the tropical region and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The objective is to include REDD in the 2015 international climate agreement. Further concrete steps on REDD were already agreed in the United Nations Climate Change Conference that was held in Warsaw in November.. Through the REDD initiative, industrialised countries pay compensation for the conservation and sustainable management of forests in the , where deforestation is progressing rapidly. The purpose of this is to increase carbon sequestration in forests. The compensation system requires accurate verification, by satellite, of the condition of forests.

In this three-year project, VTT developed a new method of monitoring tropical using numerical satellite images. The method permits forest mapping using satellite images with a resolution of ten to thirty metres. The accuracy of the maps is assessed by taking a statistical sample from satellite images with a resolution of better than one metre. Sampling is intended to ensure that the mapping method does not over- or underestimate the forested area.

In the ReCover project, nine research partners mapped forest cover in Mexico, Guyana, Columbia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Fiji Islands. This was accomplished in cooperation with local authorities and other local players in each country during a period lasting from the early 1990s to present day.

"In late 2014, the Sentinel satellites launched as part of the European Copernicus programme will begin to deliver data that is highly suitable for forest monitoring," says Tuomas Häme, Research Professor at VTT. On the other hand, a fee will be charged for ultra-high resolution satellite images.

The total cost of the EU ReCover project coordinated by VTT was approximately EUR 3.3 million. Negotiations on further projects are currently under way with representatives of the target countries. Besides VTT, Arbonaut Oy represented Finland in the project.

The final meeting of the project was held during the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in November.

Tuomas Häme will discuss imaging applications in environmental measurement in his article in the VTT Impulse magazine in December 2013.

Explore further: US proposes stricter ozone limits

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Panama REDD: Getting what you pay for

Oct 04, 2011

A new report by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Canada's McGill University identifies gaps in forest monitoring and ways to improve data collection. This will produce reliable estimates ...

Earth's northern biomass mapped and measured

Jun 27, 2013

The biomass of the northern hemisphere's forests has been mapped with greater precision than ever before thanks to satellites, improving our understanding of the carbon cycle and our prediction of Earth's ...

New research can save tropical forests

Mar 26, 2012

Scientists from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have investigated how much carbon the natural forests of Sri Lanka contain. The results are important for work to reduce deforestation of tropical countries, ...

Recommended for you

India court slams Delhi's worsening air pollution

8 hours ago

India's environment court has slammed the government over the capital's horrendous air pollution, which it said was "getting worse" every day, and ordered a string of measures to bring it down.

US proposes stricter ozone limits

19 hours ago

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced plans Wednesday to strengthen emission regulations for ozone, a smog-causing pollutant blamed for respiratory ailments affecting millions of Americans.

Deforestation drops 18 percent in Brazil's Amazon

22 hours ago

Deforestation in the Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the past 12 months, falling to the second-lowest level in a quarter century, Brazil's environment minister said Wednesday.

The unbelievable underworld and its impact on us all

23 hours ago

A new study has pulled together research into the most diverse place on earth to demonstrate how the organisms below-ground could hold the key to understanding how the worlds ecosystems function and how they ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.