Education & Capacity Building
Uganda Workshop Announcement - Budongo Forest Reserve, Western Uganda - November 12th-14th, 2008
The WHRC Africa Program is currently running a project called the Protected Area Watch for the Albertine Rift (PAWAR), with the general goal of promoting the development and use of remote sensing information in conservation policy analysis and decision making. With this objective in mind, the Woods Hole Research Center conducted a multi-day workshop from November 12th to November 14th, 2008, at the Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism Site located in the Budongo Forest Reserve, Western Uganda. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together practitioners in forest biometrics and remote sensing to share information on tools and techniques/procedures to better integrate forest field measurements with remotely sensed data sets for biomass mapping.
About 80% of global above-ground terrestrial carbon is stored in forest ecosystems. Thus, forests play a key role in the global carbon cycle and have the potential to significantly mitigate climate change. Within the Albertine Rift region of central and east Africa, one of the most important centers for biodiversity on the continent, much of the remaining intact forest occurs within protected areas. Nevertheless, mounting population pressures and associated habitat destruction make these forests some of the most threatened in the world. Increasingly, carbon projects within the region are being considered as vehicles for encouraging carbon sequestration while at the same time rehabilitating degraded tropical forests, enhancing biodiversity, and strengthening the protection of both. One such example is the Uganda Wildlife Authority – Forest Absorbing Carbon dioxide Emissions (UWA-FACE) project located in Kibale National Park, where approximately 10,000 ha of degraded forest are being restored. Kibale is known for its remarkable diversity of primates, including the endangered chimpanzee.
The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), located in Massachusetts, USA, has a long history of research focused on the carbon cycle and on forest biomass/carbon measurement and monitoring. Accurate estimates of above-ground forest biomass are required not only to reduce current uncertainties in the global carbon budget but also to inform natural resources management and to provide validation for market-based carbon projects. Traditionally, above-ground biomass estimates have been derived from national or regional (sub-national) forest inventories that provide estimates of carbon stocks at the plot to regional level but these surveys are often limited in that they do not provide information on the spatial distribution of biomass over large areas. Because forest inventories are time consuming and expensive, few developing countries, including those of the Albertine Rift, have active forest inventory programs and existing surveys are often incomplete or obsolete.
Recent research has focused on developing new methods for improving spatial estimates of above-ground biomass that are both cost-effective and accurate. The methods integrate available field measurements with spatially-extensive information acquired from satellite imagery (i.e., remote sensing technologies). Field measurements are used to calibrate and validate statistical models that are used to produce wall-to-wall maps of above-ground biomass. Although forest inventory information is often used to research and develop such methods, existing inventories are often poorly suited to large-scale mapping applications because (1) the areas sampled (i.e., plots) are too small or too few, (2) the measurements are inappropriate, or (3) the data are obsolete. Hence, new approaches to field data collection are needed. Although remote sensing technologies hold great promise for generating regional- to continental-scale maps of above-ground biomass, new protocols are required to facilitate the linkage between field and remotely sensed data.
During the workshop, standardized protocols that ensure consistency in measurement acquisition and statistical soundness in sampling design were discussed to produce protected-area as well as national-level, continental, and pan-tropical maps of biomass/carbon stocks.
Funding and support were provided by the following institutions:
Woods Hole Research Center, Spot Image and the Planet Action Initiative, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Google.org, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Wildlife Conservation Society, and The NASA Land Cover Land Use Change & Applied Sciences Programs.