In the Field. Pantropical Scholars Newsletter (february 2012)
In the Field February 2012 Woods Hole Pantropical Scholars Quarterly Newsletter Research Center Durban in Retrospect A letter from the director ...W e now have over two months of perspective after the closing of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) ofthe UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); through the lenses of our own personal experiences, and that couldn’t have been truer of the side event panelists. Mercy Karunditu, Senior Project Officer of the Green Belt Movement,was it the disappointment that most had expected, or did it spoke compellingly of how tree planting has allowed theactually make some unexpected progress? village women of Kenya to earn money and to shorten the distances they walk in search of water and wood for cooking.Unfortunately, seventeen annual Conferences of the Parties However, climate extremes, such as floods and droughts,have failed in meeting the clear goal set forth in the 1992 can imperil this progress, as described by Constance Okollet,UNFCCC treaty. Greenhouse gas emissions are continuing Chairperson of Osukuru United Women’s Network, who spoketo increase on a trajectory that is leading to the upper end of her village in Uganda that has not yet recovered from aof warming projections, and the record of extreme weather giant flood in 2007.events is accumulating, along with disastrous economic,human health, and environmental impacts that accompany Next up were WHRC scientists, Glenn Bush and Nadinethem. The recent Durban meeting made a procedural Laporte. Glenn spoke of the ways in which economists trybreakthrough of sorts by getting both developed and to measure how people value forests, putting into numbersdeveloping countries to negotiate a single emissions the values that Constance and Mercy had expressed withagreement that will apply to all signatory countries starting in their narratives. Nadine provided yet another perspective2020. It is tempting to conclude that this progress is simply as a scientist who spends hours “seeing” forests throughtoo little too late, but in the meantime, various national and the images taken by satellites orbiting the earth, while alsosubnational projects are moving forward that are helping emphasizing the importance of capacity building.define what might work in the global arena. All of these lenses through which we view forests convergeWe at WHRC and our Green Belt Movement partners made on the crucial importance of forests. I don’t know how long itour own breakthrough at a Durban side event, by merging will take for the insights gleaned by merging views throughthe narratives of people who live close to their forests with such different lenses to carry the day at the negotiatingthe scientific and economic analyses that quantify the tables, but I am convinced that the views of people who needimportance of forests for policy makers. We all view the world forests and the views of sound science will ultimately prevail. Eric Davidson, PhD nesia, lombia, Gabon, Indo Repo rts from Bolivia, Co In th is Is su e: Mexico, Uganda, La os and Zambia! Like us on Facebook
Project Coordinator Update Tina Cormier, MSW inter has finally arrived on Cape Cod! After some mild temperatures, we seem to be experiencing a bit more typical weather here now. For many of us this time after the holidays is a great opportunityto spend quality hours getting work done at the office. Our travel schedules are less hectic, and everyoneseems to be hunkered down at their desks, toiling away on research, reports, and proposals.I am no exception! I have been working on several projects focused on the tropics and also in the U.S. Iam using field-collected reference data and radar, and optical satellite images to classify floodplain landcover in the Varzea region of Brazil as well as along the Napo River on the Peru/Ecuador border. One ofthe image stacks has 29 layers, with Landsat data reaching way back to the 1980s and ALOS data from asrecently as early 2011. It’s quite an impressive catalog of information, and we are excited to be mining it!We are using the same segmentation–random forest approach that we have discussed in our workshopsto classify the images. Additionally, I have been helping Drs. Kellndorfer and Walker with a book chapterdetailing a radar-based land cover change analysis on a section of the Xingu River watershed in Mato Grosso, Brazil.Dr. Kellndorfer and I are also working on a different type of radar project. We are trying to map soil moisture at two sites in the U.S. usingALOS. We have field sites in Maine (forested) and North Dakota (agricultural) where we collect soil moisture information every 30 minutesduring the growing season, and we are trying to find a relationship between soil moisture and radar backscatter that would allow us togenerate maps of soil moisture in similar areas. Based on preliminary results, we will attempt to use modeling to remove the vegetationresponse from the radar backscatter to get a clearer picture of how soil moisture is affecting the signal. We are also investigating the use ofC-Band radar (ENVISAT, RADARSAT). These projects have kept me very busy over the past couple of months! Tina Scholar’s Editorial from Gabon Andréana Paola Mekui Biyogo, PhD D ear Scholars, It is so valuable to know each other’s activities and especially to understand what our evolution is in the fight against deforestation and forest degradation in our respective countries and in accordance with the training we have received at WHRC. As citizens of tropical countries we contribute to the slowing down of forest loss for three forest basins – the Amazon, Congo and South-East Asia. But what is our status in our individual countries? Is our expertise recognized there? In other words, how can we measure the impact of the scholar program on our own countries? While some of us have decision- making ability and autonomy in our work, it is not the case for others. For all of us, this newsletter can serve as a platform to speak about and be heard on all the challenges we face in our work. In this second edition, the activities undertaken by the scholars focused on the themes of CDM, REDD, sustainable development, and climate change. While some of us are developing indicators of biodiversity (Mexico), others are concentrating on field data collection protocols (Zambia), performing sensitivity analyses for an oil-rich forest reserve (Uganda), analyzing satellite data to produce maps of deforestation (Bolivia), participating in workshops and contributing knowledge and expertise to national conversations regarding deforestation (Gabon), completing REDD feasibility studies (Laos), or developing MRV methodologies on carbon (Indonesia). It is inspiring to see how, in our own individual ways, we are all working toward a common goal! P a ol o
Deputy Director Report Thoughts from the Carbon Scientist Scott Goetz, PhD Alessandro Baccini, PhDP art of our effort on the management side has beenfocused on getting our beloved T his is a great time for the pantropical team, and not only because winter arrived andscholars back to Woods Hole disappeared in just a few days, butfor the 4th annual 2-week because our pantropical mappingfestival of technology and project was published on Januaryexperience sharing, commonly 29. For many of you, the work isknown as the Visiting Scholars not new. It was presented duringcapacity building workshop. the scholar program and you areEach year has been better than probably already running yourthe previous, and we’d love to new and improved script. Thatkeep up the energy and get the said, I would like to think that yougreatest possible benefit from will appreciate seeing the workour shared experience working with satellite imagery and GIS for published in a peer-reviewed journal. The article can be accessed viaforest conservation and management. this link.Conducting the annual workshop requires money, and we are in I am now working on quantifying uncertainties associated withthe process of “rescoping” our pantropical mapping activity to the biomass mapping process. We used a multi-staged approachspend remaining funds and position ourselves to continue our that integrates field measurements with LiDAR and MODIS data,mapping and capacity building work in the most productive way it was important to propagate the errors relative to each step tofor everyone here at WHRC and with all of the scholars. the final biomass estimate reported on the map. This has kept meUnfortunately, we were not able to do a simple “no cost extension” busy working with Luis Carvalha, a professor of statistics at Bostonto spend the remaining money, but instead have been involved University, who helped me design a solid statistical approach forin preparing not one, but three separate rescoping proposals, generating uncertainties in maps. We were able to reduce theeach with a separate budget and emphasis area. Further, we were processing time from months to a few days! The results are verydisappointed to learn that the research side cannot include Africa, encouraging, and I hope to share them with you soon.owing to the funders’ own preferences, and so we will no longerhave a truly “pan tropical” mapping effort. Woods HoleFortunately, the capacity building that we know is so vital to ouroverall effort will continue to include colleagues from Africa; thatwas a priority for us. Going forward we may have to change theoverall name of the effort from pantropical mapping to pantropicalcapacity building, but whatever we call it we are working tocontinue our vital collaboration. Nadine has also been working ona new proposal with the East African scholars to secure fundingthrough the NASA applied Sciences Program.
Bolivia Phase One of Colombia REDD Technical Capacity Study Complete Edersson Cabrera, Diana Vargas & Paola Giraldo O ur team at IDEAM (the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies of Colombia) recently finished the first phase of the project entitled “Technical and scientific institutional capacity to support REDD projects for reducing emissions from deforestation in Colombia,” which was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. We have begun to plan the second phase of the project in order to continue monitoring deforestation and carbon stocks in natural forests. The work we did with Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) strengthened the capacity of Colombia for the processing of digital images (OpticalField validation required crossing large rivers and driving many hours. and Radar). The participation of IDEAM researchers in the annual training Deforestation Monitoring in Bolivia programs organized by WHRC positively influenced some Eric Armijo of the final products generated by the project, such as the Protocol of Digital Processing of Images for the Quantification of Deforestation in Colombia at the National and Sub-national levels,T he past two months have The regional monitoring of the the estimation of national deforestation, and the estimation of been devoted to the forest area, achieved through a carbon stocks. A Spanish summary of the products generated inpreparation of a 2008-2010 combination of remote sensing the project can be viewed via this embedded link:deforestation map for the and field work, will provide In this first phase, it was possible to establish a historic baseline ofBolivian “Legal Amazon.” This a way to locate and quantify the deforestation in Colombia by updating the deforestation ratearea of 16 million hectares in deforestation through time. for 3 periods 1990-2000, 2000-2005 and 2005-2010. For example,the northern part of the country The resulting products (maps we were able to identify that for the most recent period, theis still mostly covered by dense and reports) will support better annual rate was 238.361 hectares/year. Related information andhumid forest. However a recent actions by FAN and other the results of carbon estimates can be found in the following links:increase in logging, small scale stakeholders. Publication 1. Publication 2.agriculture and conversion topasture suggests a major threat Additionally, the project delivers a web application in which allto the forest. information generated in this phase can be viewed. The following link will lead to the application: Spanish version.The Friends of NatureFoundation (FAN-Bolivia) has It is important for IDEAM to continue and expand our work withidentified the Northern portion WHRC, as the exchange of knowledge during WHRC workshopsof the country as a key area to and subsequent trainings led by IDEAM allow us to improve ourpromote the sustainable use of capacity to apply methodologies that generate the high qualitythe forest, including non-timber geographic products needed to monitor our natural forests.products. This strategy is aimedat reducing deforestation andforest degradation, whichcould guarantee the integrity ofcurrent Amazon ecosystems. ColombiaRight above: Cattle ranching is amajor driver of deforestation in theBolivian Amazon. Right below:Riverine vegetation bordering theBeni river, near the city of Riberalta. 2005 - 2010 Colombia Landsat.
Developing a National Strategy for Sustainable Development in Gabon Andréana Paola Mekui BiyogoI n the last quarter of 2011, I participated in a number of workshops; contributed to the development of a number ofpolicy documents and annual work plan in my institution, the • Workshop on the report of the Second National Communication on Climate Change, Gabon, which was submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat at the COP17 in Durban inMinistry of Water and Forest, Gabon. Indeed, as Focal Point of the December 2011.National Commission for Sustainable Development (CNDD) torepresent my institution in the inter-ministerial committee, the • Workshop on developing the national strategy document onmajority of my time was spent developing the National Strategy on CDM. As a member of the multidisciplinary working groupSustainable Development (NSSD). I mention only the workshops implemented by the National Authority for CDM, I contributedrelated to the fight against climate change that I have been to the preparation of CDM projects for my institution.involved with over the last 3 months: • Workshop to launch the National Strategy for Sustainable• Workshop on assessment and evaluation of forest carbon in Development (NSSD), whose main objective was to reviewGabon, organized by the National Agency of National Parks and and amend the priorities of that NSSD for Gabon, covering fourAGEOS. I represented my institution as a remote sensing expert. major challenges, namely to promote good governance, ensureMy role was to provide technical advice on methods of carbon economic growth prosperity, improve and expand socialstock assessment by remote sensing, and on the establishment of welfare, and protect the environment.a standard field inventory protocol for permanent plots set up to The links below lead to press coverage of our work:monitor carbon. Publication 1 / Publication 2 / Publication 3 / Publication 4 A workshop in progress. Gabon
Development and Testing of a Carbon MRV Methodology and Monitoring Plan in Indonesia Virni Budi Arifanti I am just back from the field in the Katingan District of Central Kalimantan Province. The Ministry of Forestry (MOF), Republic of Indonesia, in collaboration with ITTO and Marubeni Corp has signed an MoU to conduct a full Feasibility Study (FS) to develop a complete REDD+ MRV Methodology for the bilateral offset scheme. One of the activities carried out by the MOF is to undertake, design, and test the applicability and scientific thoroughness of the carbon MRV methodology through the measurement and monitoring of peat, water level, and forest biomass at each permanent sampling plot. This work is jointly implemented by PT Starling Resources and University of Hokkaido with the following activities: • Forest Biomass (Above Ground Carbon stock) measurement: Analyze above ground biomass using remote sensing technologies (e.g., ALOS AVNIR, Landsat) and field measurements, determine and establish Permanent Sampling Plots (PSPs), develop allometric equation for peat forest. • Peat analysis: Analyze peat depth data from past survey, determine and establish PSPs, analyze carbon content of peat samples • Water level: Set up data loggers at water level sampling plots, measure and test peat depth in selected PSPs, analyze water level data at selected PSPs. Below left: Diameter and tree height measurement. Below center: The entire team gathers for a photo. Bottom right: Taking plot coordinates and measuring tree density in ex- burnt peat forest. Indonesia
Decisions Support System (SSD), CONABIO, Mexico Isabel TrejoW ith my colleagues in the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), we have beenworking on assessing the relationship between high biodiversity Using information from the National Forest Inventory (INF) and the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR), we developed an index of environmental or anthropogenic impact. This index is helping toand high carbon storage in Mexico, and how increasing storage identify and characterize which temperate and tropical forests arealong a gradient of land-use intensity could help mitigate the the most endangered and which are still undisturbed. (Map 1)impact of climate change on forest ecosystems. Reforestation orconservation projects funded under REDD could possibly produce We are also working on assessing changes in taxonomic diversityan increase in species richness and biodiversity, and therefore also of trees and change in vegetation structure to further develop anthe capacity to mitigate climate change. ecological integrity index. Map 1. Tree density map with anthropogenic impacts, per INF. The Yucatan Peninsula shows one of the highest tree densities while Mexico City and surrounding areas have very low tree density. Mexico
Remote Sensing Technology for Conservation Monitoring in Uganda Edward SenyonjoI have been involved with a lot of satellite image analysis, vector data analysis and fieldwork since my visit to WHRC. I am proudto report that skills acquired from the WHRC pantropical programcame in handy as I worked through this congested schedule. Forexample, I used Spring 5.1.6 for all image segmentation, ArcGIS 10to process the vector data, and GPicSync for georeferencing fieldphotos and uploading them to Google Earth. The skills I learnedwere not limited to remote sensing/GIS, but also included personaland team building skills – gained from Alan and Ned, which helpedme effectively coordinate tasks with both management in officeand teams in the field. Indeed the team building skills are usefulin situations where we are working on projects with overlappingtime lines, limited resources, tight deadlines and high expectationsfrom policymakers.l was responsible for the production of forest maps and otherinformation from Landsat satellite images for the Maramagamboforest reserve. We used this information and maps to createsampling designs for tree species distribution and biodiversitysurveys which targeted birds and mammals. Maramagamboforest reserve is one of the largest, least surveyed forest blocksin Uganda. It is part of a complex forest ecosystem that lies in anecologically sensitive area better known as the Albertine Graben,which is very rich in biodiversity. This is located in southwesternUganda and is part of other protected areas, the most conspicuousbeing Queen Elizabeth National Park. Oil exploration started Above: 2010 Environmental Sensitivity Atlas. Below left: A herd of cattlein the area a few years ago and eventually large deposits were graze and water at the Semliki River. The degraded banks are widening atdiscovered. The sensitivity atlas can be downloaded here: 10m/yr due to the receding snow on the Rwenzori Mountains. Below right: Butiaba Wanseko Rift Valley Uganda
REDD Feasibility Study for the NEPL NPA in Laos Akchousanh Rasphone & Colin MooreT he end of 2011 saw The Wildlife Conservation Society complete a REDD feasibility study for the Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL NPA) in Laos. To do this, land cover change maps (Figure 1) for four years (2000, 2004,2006 and 2010) as well as a current land cover map of the NPA (Figure 2) were produced using Landsat imagery. Thesemaps allowed us to understand what the current carbon stocks were, on site, and to calculate rates of deforestation.Despite knowing that agricultural practices in the NEPL NPA are intensifying and expanding, our analysis demonstratedthat historical rates of deforestation in the NPA have traditionally been low. This is because the expansion is occurring inexisting fallow areas rather than at the expense of forest. This means however, that the project has a low emission reductionpotential, based upon current methodologies accepted by the Verified Carbon Standard, and is unlikely to generate a highnumber of carbon credits.The outcome is that WCS is now looking into alternative approaches to develop the NEPL NPA as a REDD project. Inparticular, WCS is exploring the possibility of developing a sub-national, jurisdictionally based REDD project into whichthe NEPL NPA would ‘nest.’ Jurisdictional-based REDD is the direction REDD is taking under the UNFCCC. By supporting thedevelopment of REDD in NEPL NPA along these lines, WCS hopes to be at the cutting edge of REDD developments.Figure 1: Map of cumulative deforestation in the NEPL NPA, 2000 – 2010. Figure 2: Land cover map of NEPL NPA in 2010 . La os
The ILUA II and UN-REDD Programs in Zambia Training of Field Team Leaders (FTL) – Forest Inventory, Soil Surveying and Socio-economic Surveys Abel M. Siampale & Sitwala Wamunyima T he forestry Department in Zambia, through the Integrated Land-use Assessment (ILUA II) and the UN-REDD programs, has embarked on training of Field Team Leaders (FTL) that will and the MRV Expert (Julian Fox) to ensure there is consideration for quality control on the “thematic variables” for the type of data to be collected. Additionally, our main role is to provide spearhead the first phase of field data collection scheduled to start technical guidance and expertise on the use of remote sensing to in April 2012. Three National Consultants (Forestry Information supplement the preferred methods by the experts. The training Specialist, Soil Scientist and Socio-economic Expert) have been was preceded with a comprehensive assessment of forestry engaged to develop field manuals that will contain elaborate information needs including REDD+ requirements at national, methods and protocols for field data collection. These consultants provincial, and district levels. Below is a tentative tabulation of areas are working closely with us and the project staff (Abel and Sitwala) of concentration for biophysical information needs: Main Category Sub Detail Variables Tree Biomass Above ground Tree heights (m), Bole heights (m), Stem diameter (cm) and Crown dimension (count) Below ground Ratio of Below/above ground biomass fraction = 0.28 for tropical dry forest with above ground biomass > 20 tonnes/ha. carbon fraction of biomass equal to 0.47 Dead Organic Matter Dead wood Volume (m3) - Bole heights (m), Stem diameter (cm) Litter/Leaves/Twigs Mass (g) – Collected and weighed in 1g plastic containers Grass Volume (m3) - grass fuel loads Soil Humus Soil Profile Bulky density, Soil type, Soil Texture, Soil Ph extracted from 1 x 1m dip pits Lab testing Carbon content (tons) AUTHORS’ NOTE: The overall technical guidance and expertise provided by the project staff (Abel and Sitwala) for ILUA and UN-REDD projects in Zambia, is as a result of the enhanced skills and hands- on knowledge learnt from the 3 year-long (2009, 2010 and 2011) scholar program on Pan‐Tropical Mapping of Forest‐Cover and Above‐Ground Carbon Stock hosted by Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), particularly in the calibration of field inventory data to remote sensing datasets and mapping of land cover change. The scholars are anticipating that subsequent opportunities to participate in the 2012 scholar program will further enhance their skills in 3 main areas of interest: (i) Image segmentation and % tree cover mapping; (ii) Creation of emission maps; and (iii) Modeling land use and land cover Change. We look forward to coming back! - By Abel & SitwalaSitwala Wamunyima Abel Siampale Zam bia
The Pantropi cal Scholar TeamOur vision is a world in which the insights of science guide management of theEarth’s natural resources, so that we and future generations may sustain prosperousand fulfilling lives without degrading the ecosystems that support humanity and adiverse abundance of life.
The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) is a private, non-profit research organizationfocussing on environmental sciences. Our scientists combine analysis of satellite images of theEarth with field studies to measure, model, and map changes in the world’s ecosystems, fromthe thawing permafrost in the Arctic to the expanding agriculture regions of the tropics. We worklocally and regionally, with in-depth expertise and collaborations in North and South America andAfrica; and we also work globally, focussing on how humans are changing global cycles of carbon,nitrogen, and water. We merge natural science with economics to discover sustainable paths forhuman prosperity and stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources.Our mission is to advance scientific discovery and seek science-based solutions for the world’senvironmental and economic challenges through research and education on forests, soils, air,and water. Program Director: Nadine Laporte, PhD Editor & Program Coordinator: Tina Cormier, MS Design: Ian Vorster, MS, Associate Director of Communications. www.whrc.org