The impact of global warming due to the continued rise of atmospheric CO2 is well documented with climate change a real threat of the Earth’s ability to sustain life. Tropical forest conversion is estimated to contribute between 12 to 30% of global carbon emissions.
Since 2009 The Guyana Forestry Commission, with technical support from Indufor, has monitored the country’s forest cover. Tropical forests are Guyana’s most valuable land resource; they cover 87.5% of the landmass and are home to Amerindian peoples representing 15% of Guyana’s population.
The project supported by the Kingdom of Norway commenced in 2009. Under the bilateral agreement, Guyana monitors its forest area and carbon loss using a series of indicators or measures. In return, Norway provides performance-based payments on an annual basis.
Monitoring to Protect Tropical Forests
A unique feature of the monitoring system is that it is open-source. Developed by Indufor’s resource monitoring team, the platform managed by GFC provides an invaluable resource that supports Guyana in reporting and understanding forest loss across the country at a fine scale.
Analysis of forest loss over the last decade has provided an in-depth understanding of annual forest loss and drivers.
The insights from these trends have enabled Guyana to set baselines and gauge progress towards meeting payment-based targets.
A process of continuous improvement.
Throughout the 10 years, improvements in computer processing and an increasing number of satellites has accelerated innovation, giving Guyana the ability to monitor land cover change more frequently – a feature that provides benefits beyond the intended application of the monitoring system.
Today the forest monitoring system has evolved to allow near real-time monitoring of forest change that can be used to support and improve the management of Guyana’s natural resources.
Near-real-time deforestation alerts using Radar images
A feature noted by Veetal Rajkumar, Head of Policy, Planning and Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Natural Resources “Guyana is blessed with expansive rainforests, and it’s increasingly apparent the importance of conserving these forests for the future benefit of all. In my opinion, I think the forest monitoring system that the GFC developed is world-class; the logical next step for this system would be to make it a more real-time system so to enable the tracking of change as it happens.”
A key strength of the program is the joint development and interchange between GFC and Indufor’s experts. Importantly the platform provides a tool that supports Guyana’s low carbon development strategy, which strives to maintain forest cover while enabling continued sustainable development and improved livelihoods for Guyanese.
Phase III of the project will commence in late 2021 and will further develop the platform by distributing layers and information to Guyana’s land management agencies to facilitate data sharing and align monitoring efforts.
Our team is led by Dr Pete Watt, from Indufor’s resource monitoring team. To learn more, click here to listen to the team discuss the technical inputs behind the system, from its inception to the current system and future plans.