Education & Capacity Building: Indigenous Workshop 2010

Indigenous outreach on Climate Change and Forest Monitoring

Indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin have a special stake in the maintenance of healthy forests. As Amazon forests are cleared for timber production, cattle ranching, and industrial agriculture, indigenous communities risk losing their homes, livelihoods, traditional ways of life and, hence, their cultural identity. Through the UNFCCC and other international initiatives, progress is being made on the design of a performance-based policy mechanism to compensate tropical nations for maintaining their forests intact. Indigenous participation in the process of policy design and implementation is recognized as a critical factor in the success of any international emissions-reduction program.

To assist in these efforts, WHRC scientists, staff and partners are involved in ongoing outreach activities focused on indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin, transferring knowledge on the role that forests and carbon play in climate change mitigation and developing skills needed for effective participation in policy initiatives to reduce tropical deforestation. Through ongoing partnerships with Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), WHRC is participating in training workshops and related outreach activities throughout the nine Amazon Basin countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

The primary role of WHRC scientists in these efforts is to build indigenous capacity in the fundamental tools and techniques now being actively developed by WHRC to monitor pan-tropical forest cover and associated carbon stocks, a critical facet in the advancement of policies for reducing emissions from tropical deforestation and degradation. Training workshops include basic class-room and field-based components focused on building general awareness and skills in methods being used to map and monitor forests. The workshops also consider how indigenous traditional knowledge and practices could contribute to the improvement of field methods while exploring partnerships between scientists and indigenous communities for mapping and monitoring changes in forests on indigenous reserves. The knowledge and skills gained from these collaborations provide an important foundation for indigenous community organizations seeking to lead initiatives focused on compensating local communities for promoting forest stewardship.

Funding is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore,, and David and Lucile Packard foundations as well as the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Inter-American Development Bank.


The basic agenda for the two-day indigenous workshops was as follows:

Day 1 (Expert Presentations and Participatory Exercises)

Module 1 – Introduction to forests, carbon and climate change: a forest monitoring perspective

Module 2 – Introduction to basic remote sensing principles and practices

Module 3 – Understanding methods for deforestation and forest carbon measurement and mapping

Module 4 – Case studies focused on local forest carbon mapping and measurement projects

Module 5 – Discussion with participants on indigenous forest uses/management practices

Day 2 (Field Training on Forest Measurement)

The one-day field exercise will focus on introducing workshop participants to the primary tools and techniques that are traditionally used to obtain forest carbon measurements on the ground. We will discuss and demonstrate how to a) navigate to, b) establish, and c) make measurements in a typical forest-monitoring plot. Specific topics to be covered include:

  1. Layout of a forest monitoring plot
  2. Use of global positioning system (GPS) devices
  3. Use of equipment for measuring forest trees
  4. Use of digital cameras for recording forest conditions
  5. Determining what measurements to obtain and how to record these measurements
  6. Translating forest tree measurements into estimates of forest biomass, carbon, and emissions

Ecuador  |  Colombia  |  Bolivia

Ecuador Workshop





Colombia Workshop





Bolivia Workshop