Monitoring Forests from space
New data and new methods are making it easier to monitor large forest landscapes by satellite. Real-time data on forest fires help WWF determine exactly where the human frontier is expanding into natural areas. In addition, monitoring of areas which are sensitive to fires or likely to emit high amounts of carbon is underway and the progress of local programs aimed at reducing fires during certain periods of the year can be tracked over time. The effects of deforestation or changes from intact to non-intact forests are being measured from an ecological perspective using spatial indicators such as fragmentation. Measuring these variables over time helps in the identification of hotspots of change and the potential impacts on biodiversity and climate.
Explanation of the legend:
- Core Forest – interior continuous forest
- Patch Forest – patches that are displaced from core
- Transition forest – between patch and core
- Edge – forest bordering non-forest
- Perforation – hole of non-forest inside forest
Remote Sensing Support for Forest Certification
Forests contain the largest terrestrial storage of carbon and harbour nearly 90 percent of global diversity. Deforestation and degradation are the largest sources of carbon emissions after coal and oil contributing to 18 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions. In order to support a sustainable use of forest more than 148 million hectares of forests in over 80 countries are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) scheme. WWF Germany and its partners support forest certification with remote sensing technology and software to help demonstrate the additional benefits of certification, namely intact forests, provision of ecosystem services including biodiversity.
WWF Germany’s remote sensing capacity can provide support packages for companies in the process of seeking certification of their forest licence and can help in monitoring the relative impacts over time to prove how certification can benefit both forests and our climate compared to non-managed forests.
Forest degradation is generally identified as the long-term loss of forest functions and ecosystem services which, however, are not considered as deforestation or entire forest clearing. This therefore indicates a reduction in the quality and condition of the forest rather than a reduction in the area occupied by forest, which nevertheless can still result in considerable carbon emissions.
Many scientists believe the area affected by degradation to be far greater than that affected by deforestation. To date accurate estimates of degradation, however, do not exist due to a lack in standardised methods to map or quantify degradation in the landscape scale. WWF is analysing various indicators and various types of satellite imagery calibrated by data take in the field in order to determine the most suitable methods at the most affordable cost for monitoring forest degradation; a crucial component to the REDD process. The results will not only support a reduction in emissions but also help WWF measure its impact on the ground.