2015 Activities

GFOI Training Materials Coordination Meeting
November 11 - 12, 2015: Wageningen University, Netherlands

A group of experts and SilvaCarbon partners met in Wageningen University to discuss future and existing plans in capacity building initiatives. Topics discussed the first day included:

  1. Sepal and FAO future plans for integrating new capabilities to SEPAL
  2. UN-REDD FAO capacity building plans and roadmap
  3. Australia – MGD Portal, ongoing testing, future plans and launching
  4. GOFC -GOLD – Training modules, ongoing training, and future integration with capacity building GFOI efforts
  5. FCPF– activities to support capacity building on REDD MRV
  6. Boston University BEEDA tools. Plans for integrating open source modules into capacity building, MGD portal and Sepal
  7. SilvaCarbon regional efforts. Integration of training materials into capacity building
  8. SilvaCarbon ongoing effort for the capacity building best practice guidance and lessons learned
  9. Coordination among GOFC -GOLD, FAO, FCPF WB, SilvaCarbon, and MGD. Lined up jointed activities that will bring individual efforts together

Topics discussed on the second day included:

  1. Collation of training materials/tools / gap analysis / publication through the portal / development of material that links reporting requirements to core MRV concepts (i.e. time series / emissions estimation / accuracy assessment (activity data and carbon change) /integration of remote sensing data and ground data)
  2. Additional training material needs and what they look like
  3. Accessibility and the potential role of the MGD portal
Expert workshop on using global datasets for national REDD+ measuring and monitoring
November 9 - 10, 2015: Wageningen University, Netherlands
Organized by: Global Forest Observation Initiative, GOFC-GOLD Land Cover Project Office, and Wageningen University, The Netherlands

UNFCCC negotiations have identified the need to establish national forest monitoring systems that use an appropriate combination of remote sensing and ground-based forest carbon inventory approaches for estimating anthropogenic forest-related greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks to support REDD+ implementation and assessing performance in implementing REDD+ activities. Efforts to improve country monitoring capacities are ongoing, and a series of global and regional datasets have been produced by the research community. These global and regional products become increasingly relevant, spurred by the REDD+ monitoring requirements, and aided by the communications efforts of initiatives such as Global Forest Watch and recently the Global Observation Forests Initiative (GFOI) has provided a module with initial advice on the possible use of global datasets in the context of national monitoring. Beyond that, there is little additional guidance on their use for national forest monitoring, change estimation, or reporting and over the past 24 months, a number of experiences on the use of global data products have been collected in different country circumstances. It is timely and relevant for a collection and exchange of these experiences to guide future research, guidance documents, and communication on the use of global data products. Central actors in the field have expressed the value of, and their interest in, such an effort.

Workshop Objectives: The international community together with experts from countries has been working to provide guidance to countries on how estimate emissions from REDD+ activities through the GOFC-GOLD REDD+ Sourcebook (www.gofcgold.wur.nl/redd) and related training materials (https://www.gofcgold.wur.nl/redd/Training_materials.php), and the GFOI methods and guidance document (https://www.gfoi.org/methods-guidance/) which links REDD+ operationally to IPCC guidelines.

The workshop aims to bring together the communities of REDD+ monitoring experts and national practitioners to discuss the current state in using global datasets for national forest monitoring systems, identify gaps and obstacles that hinder progress where the use of global datasets would be advantageous, and to develop a synthesis, additional guidance and an action plan towards improving the underlying science and national forest monitoring in REDD+ countries. More specifically, the workshop aims to:

  • Present and collect of current experiences on the use of global data products related to national forest monitoring system (NFMS) and those of other stakeholders involved in REDD+ monitoring. These experiences largely relate to the use of remote sensing-based forest cover and change products but will also take into account those related to biomass and emission factors for biomass and other pools (i.e. from fire and peatlands)
  • Identify gaps, inconsistencies, uncertainties and other obstacles for the useful integration of global monitoring efforts with those of national forest monitoring efforts
  • Discuss and document the impact of the experiences issues on:
    • The existing and upcoming guidance on their use (provided by GFOI and GOFC-GOLD)
    • Capacity building efforts for national forest monitoring systems
    • Communication of global data product analyses and results
    • Research needs and opportunities (links to the GFOI R&D component)

The expected outcomes of the workshop is a set of presentation and discussion materials that will be made available online, and a workshop report that synthesize the findings towards improved guidance to be provided by the various partners involved to countries and other users.


  • Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI)
  • US Silvacarbon Program
  • Global Forest Observations Initiative
  • GOFC-GOLD Land Cover Office (GOFC-GOLD LC Office)
  • European Space Agency (ESA)
  • Wageningen University Research (WUR)
SDCG 8 meeting
September 23 - 25, 2015: Bonn, Germany

USGS Senior Scientist Doug Muchoney participates in the 8th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Space Data Coordination Group (SDCG) for the Global
Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI), hosted by German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Meeting Objectives:

  • Deliver an overview of existing implementations of REDD+ MRV systems
  • Provide an overview of available experiences and concepts of national MRVs with a special focus on approximating forest degradation
  • Discuss definitions of forest degradation with a particular focus on ecosystem services, impact of degradation on emissions and ways to report on forest degradation
  • Discuss the examples provided and the levels of certainty which can be achieved using current best practises with the aim to identify knowledge gaps and options to close those gaps
  • Display and discuss cost-efficiency of current system and multi-level applications (basic cartography, infrastructure, agricultural monitoring, etc.)
  • Discuss the specific needs for data and capacity building
  • Foster the exchange with the Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI)
Forth GFOI SE Asia Workshop in Forest Monitoring: Methods for forest biomass mapping and estimation in the tropics
October 5 - 9, 2015: Bogor, Indonesia

The analysis of biomass has been gaining increasing interest, due to the ongoing discussions about Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and the need to conserve and increase forest carbon stocks in Non Annex 1 countries, advances in climate change research, and conservation management needs. Series of maps of biomass and carbon have been published in different countries and globally by using different approaches in their production. It is important to validate these maps using reference data, and thus understand the sources of variability in the estimate.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Review different options and methods for developing biomass maps and carbon estimates for reporting purposes
  • Revise critical issues associated with biomass estimation methods, such as: field data plots available, the analysis of uncertainty of the estimates, the use of adequate algorithms, and the use of appropriate metrics for biomass models
  • Provide opportunity to discuss practical problems/issues with developing biomass maps, through exchange of ideas between technical specialist from the region and experts from other countries.
  • Discuss future capacity building needs and training topics for further advancing the technical skills for biomass estimation and forest carbon mapping at national scale.
BEEODA: A suit of open-source software and educational materials for processing Earth observation data
September 25, 2015: Washington, DC, USA

Dr. Pontus Olofsson, from Boston University, presented BEEODA: Boston Education on Earth Observation Data Analysis. A fully functional and open-source software solution for processing Earth observations data that would allow practitioners to employ recent advancements in remote sensing analyses without spending large amounts of money on proprietary software. It would further allow for algorithm transparency and possibilities of customizing and updating the software. BEEODA, Boston Education in Earth Observation Data Analysis is an effort to accomplish this: it is a suite of open-source software and education materials designed to allow users to complete a wide range of remote sensing analyses and processing tasks including time series analysis, object-based image analysis and accuracy/area estimation. The software is a collection of already existing tools like QGIS, GDAL, and Orfeo that run in a Linux Ubuntu virtual machine with instructions, tutorials and recordings guiding practitioners through various tasks.

Vietnam Time Series System Analysis Workshop
September 14 - 16, 2015: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

This workshop was designated to expose partners to different processing methods, classifications, quality assessments, and derivation of time derived spectral features. Additionally, the workshop helped to improve the technical knowledge on mapping forest change using time series analysis systems; and help to coordinate the next steps for time series systems capacity transfer. The workshop showcased all the technical and financial aspects for running several Landsat based time-series analyses for detecting cover forest change. The leading experts of these methodologies presented their methods before the workshop in a Landsat scene in the Lâm Đồng province of Vietnam. An accuracy assessment was conducted prior to the workshop, and it was used as a base for discussing the differences among the change detection products produced by each method. Vietnam representatives had the opportunity to discuss, verify, and explore the dynamics of forest cover change using Google Earth Engine and the TimeSync Landsat time-series Visualization tool. The overall goal of the workshop was to identify the method that will be more suitable for Vietnam to adapt in the future considering their resources and technical capacity. In the future, a second intensive workshop will be scheduled for hands on training in one of the methodologies if Vietnam considers them suitable.

Vietnam Biomass Estimation Workshop
July 21 - 24, 2015: Hanoi, Vietnam

The analysis of biomass has been gaining increasing interest, due to the ongoing discussions about Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and the need to conserve and increase forest carbon stocks in Non Annex 1 countries, advances in climate change research, and conservation management needs. Series of maps of biomass and carbon have been published in different countries and globally by using different approaches in their production. It is important to validate these maps using reference data, and thus understand the sources of variability in the estimate. This workshop reviewed methods associated with the different remote sensing sources for estimating biomass, whether optical, SAR or LiDAR data. In addition, this workshop focused on the revision of the critical issues associated with biomass estimation methods in Vietnam, and provided an opportunity to discuss techniques that will improve biomass estimation. Different experts who have been developed methodologies with either a multi-sensor or sensors for comparative analysis at regional level were invited to present and discuss their work.

2nd GFOI Africa Regional Workshop in Forest Monitoring Time Series Analysis for Forest Cover Change
June 1 - 3, 2015: Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

The second Central Africa technical GEO-GFOI-SilvaCarbon workshop on forest monitoring is designated to expose partners to different processing methods, classifications, quality assessment, and derivation of time-derived spectral features; improve technical knowledge regarding mapping forest change using time series system analysis; and facilitate collaboration between countries in the region through capacity transfer.

13th GFOI Americas Regional Workshop in Forest Monitoring Prediction and Uncertainty of Drivers of Deforestation
February 23 - 27, 2015: Tena, Ecuador

The science of predicting and responding to future forest conditions involves several components. First, identifying the drivers of forest loss and degradation is needed to parameterize predictive models. This can involve studying relationships between known loss and degradation and the factors that affect these activities, such as areas of population expansion, illegal logging, or road building. Second, the identification of modeling approaches that integrate these data into models requires both statistical methods and technological skills in the area of geospatial analysis, geographic information systems, and remote sensing. Third, applying models and identifying future forest conditions, along with hot spots of high priority concern, allows managers to focus their efforts in these areas. Finally, adaptation to future conditions is a critical component – the identification of strategies for working with local, regional, and national partners to address ecological problems that are expected to occur in the future is essential.

The workshop addressed the following main themes:

  • Identifying drivers of deforestation through risk analysis and prediction methods
  • Development of risk models, or models predicting future forest conditions
  • Identification of areas with high forest management priority
  • Risk adaptation and mitigation strategies
3rd GFOI SE Asia Regional Workshop in Forest Monitoring Forest mapping and monitoring with radar data
February 9 - 12, 2015: Siem Reap, Cambodia

The third edition of the GFOI Technical Workshops for South and Southeast Asia brought together remote sensing and GIS specialists from forestry departments, national mapping authorities and satellite agencies from seven SilvaCarbon countries to learn about the opportunities and challenges for applying radar data for forest monitoring in the context of REDD+. Experts from several institutions, leading the current research on radar data application, presented the basic principles of radar technology, provided overview of the different radar data sources and outlined some of the key functions of radar data relevant for forest monitoring. Practical exercises for radar data interpretation and for processing ALOS data were included in the program to give participants general idea of steps involved in radar data processing. Much of the discussions focused on the utility of radar data for forest monitoring and improving forestry data at national level. It was emphasized that defining the key purpose for using radar data and the level of details required is very important as this influences the type of radar sensor and processing software, the level of processing and the level of technical capacity of staff.

On the last day, participants highlighted the interest to use radar data for supplementing optical data to increase accuracy and quality of forest maps at national level. Forest cover mapping and biomass estimation were identified as priority topics for further capacity building and research. It was agreed to plan for a longer, practical training on radar data processing focused on forest cover mapping. It was also agreed that countries will identify priority locations for obtaining radar data, and these will be shared with the GFOI for consideration in the data acquisition strategy.

12th GFOI Americas Regional Workshop in Forest Monitoring Early Warning Systems for Deforestation
January 19 - 23, 2015: Sao Jose Dos Campos, Brazil

The main objective of this GFOI workshop in INPE, Brazil is to showcase the methodologies of existing early warning systems to the Americas SilvaCarbon countries:

Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Mexico. Systems such as DETER (Deforestation Detection in RealTime) from INPE will be discussed and analyzed. One half day of this workshop will focus solely on fire early warning systems and their important in detecting degradation. This workshop is essential to illustrate the effectiveness of these systems as an articulated set
of procedures through which it collects and processes information about foreseeable threats, and prevent deforestation. Early warning systems are vital to the forest conservation and this showcase will help Latin American countries to learn from these systems and move closer to real-time monitoring.