IGARSS 2010 - 2010 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium - July 25 - 30, 2010 - Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Community Remote Sensing: Towards a World Forest Observatory


Wiki-based community remote sensing tools for performing a fine-scale global census of forest attributes. The goal of Towards a World Forest Observatory is to design a framework for developing and conducting a global forest "census," providing for the first time an accurate, expansive, and universally accessible database of forest attribute data. A wiki-based approach to a forest census is vital because forests are nationally sovereign resources. A wiki will also allow global measurements to advance beyond the current system of ad hoc, inconsistent data collection given differences among individual countries' measurement capacities. Advancing a state-of-the-art forest census will require a strong network of expertise, easily understood and achievable standards, and an international coordinating framework to organize many ongoing data collection and ground-truthing efforts.


The lead organization is Resources for the Future. Project personnel include Molly Macauley, Roger Sedjo and Danny Morris, Resources for the Future; Ruth DeFries and Matt Fagan, Columbia University; Michael Obersteiner, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis; Josef Kellndorfer, Woods Hole Research Institute, Alan Grainger, University of Leeds, Mark Brender, GeoEye; Brent Sohngen, Ohio State University; Pekka Kauppi, University of Helsinki; Jingyun Fang, Peking University. Funding has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Despite the economic and environmental significance of forests, we have only imprecise measurements of the physical variables that determine their valued attributes, whether for timber, carbon management, habitat, or other purposes. International policymakers are now taking interest in forests because curbed deforestation and forest degradation are considered an effective means of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. In this project, Towards a World Forest Observatory, we develop a wiki framework, institutional design, and remote sensing technology assessment towards a “forest census” for informing the public, scientists, and practitioners.

Recognition of the need for an independent, coordinated institution or set of institutions to manage and gather quality datasets is growing. As early as 2002, the G-8 recognized the desirability of coordinating myriad Earth-observing systems to enhance stewardship of the world's natural and environmental resources. The G-8's response was to form the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS), directed by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), which has over 75 national governments as members. Coordinating and networking the efforts of GEO, which has a draft forest carbon tracking program in place for 2009 through 2011, with international experts and other organizations active in forest monitoring and measurement will result major advances in understanding and tracking the state of forests across the globe.


To be posted when available.


Project LeadMolly Macauley (macauley@rff.org)
Project Websitehttp://www.rff.org/News/Features/Pages/Overview-The-Worlds-Forests.aspx


Forest cover from Mexico to Panama classified by GLC2000 and by MODIS (lower panels) and the disagreement between them.  The red circle identifies a hot spot of disagreement in Guatemala and El Salvador (source: Geo-WIKI 2009).

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