Developing Earth Observation products for monitoring tropical humid and dry forests
The importance of tropical forest ecosystems in stabilising the global climate, protecting watersheds, maintaining biodiversity and serving as a source of livelihood for a substantial amount of the world’s population is well established. Efforts to monitor and map changes in the forest using Earth Observation (EO) – technologies has been increasing in the past decade, leading to the requirement for EO based Tropical Forest Monitoring Systems and Services (TFMSS). This has especially gained momentum due to key developments for example in the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) policy process related to countries reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) which requires an assessment of national historical and projected deforestation/degradation rates and statistics.
Furthermore, the corporate sector wants to ensure the sustainability of their supply chain and are increasingly interested by concepts such as Zero Deforestation (ZD). ZD should be understood as the preservation of high carbon and biodiversity of forests and that development should be targeted in areas with low carbon and low biodiversity stocks. However, to be credible, the implementation of such approaches need to be closely monitored. Standardized and quality assured EO based forest monitoring services can provide credible and independent information both in the design and monitoring of such schemes. At international level, the ZD is increasingly gaining momentum because it is seen as targeting the main causes of deforestation.
At the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Montreal 2005, a group of tropical countries initiated a process to address the issue of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), that would be implemented as a post-Kyoto Protocol mechanism.
Deforestation and degradation are estimated to contribute to about 12% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.
The basic premise of a future REDD policy would be that countries willing and capable of reducing emissions due to deforestation and forest degradation will be compensated financially. In the subsequent COP meetings, countries were encouraged to develop REDD Pilot Projects in order to assess the viability of such a process nationally.
The corporate sector – in cooperation with civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) – wants to ensure the sustainability of their supply chain. Concepts such as Zero Deforestation (ZD) which foresees the preservation of forest with high biodiversity and high carbon are tackling this need.
One of the initial methods to support industry with the ZD programme was the High Carbon Stock (HCS) approach developed by Golden Agri Resources, Greenpeace and The Forest Trust (TFT).
The HCS methodology should be understood as one of many mechanisms to fight deforestation and forest degradation. A joint implementation for ZD and REDD+ is even proposed in the HCS methodology guidelines. Thus, ZD mechanisms and policies influence REDD+ activities and vice versa. In the latest agreements of the COP21 in Paris, governments did include to their commitments the proposition to cooperate with companies to achieve sustainable or zero-deforestation production and supply chains.
Products and services developed during the course of EOMonDis can assist to implement and monitor the zero deforestation commitments.
Horizon 2020 is the European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The programme focusses on the excellence in science, industrial leadership and tackling social challenges. With nearly €80 billion of funding it is the biggest research and innovation program of the European Union. Within the current funding period (2014 – 2020) manifold projects in various sections are supported. EOMonDis project is placed in the “Space” section under the pillar “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies” and addresses the specific Topic EO-1-2015: Bringing EO applications to the market. It will be implemented over a 3 year period (2016 – 2019).