In the context of the EU’s fight against global warming, the aim of FOROBS is to develop methods to benchmark the monitoring of forest resources and carbon emissions, with a focus on tropical regions. Assessments are carried out to gain an improved understanding of how forest resources can meet the competing demands for economic and ecological services, especially when confronted with increasing threats, such as climate change.

In the context of the monitoring, reporting and verification of forestry emissions in the framework of the UNFCCC Paris agreement (Dec. 2015) the project’s aim is to further develop and validate reference methods for the assessment of forest cover changes in tropical regions from Earth Observation data, in relation and with support to the Copernicus programme. The project focuses on forest degradation and looks at forest regrowth issues with international (FAO, CIFOR) and national institutional partners in the tropics (national forest inventory or REDD services from a number of countries or regions). New analysis module are developed to allow the estimation of carbon emissions from disturbances in tropical forest cover.

FOROBS currently manages the ReCaREDD Project that has as scope to develop, together with organisation from the tropical partner countries, remote sensing – based methods to assess tropical forest degradation in the context of REDD+.

FOROBS is also involved in the ROADLESS project that maps roads in tropical forests worldwide and assesses their effect as facilitators of deforestation and forest degradation.

ReCaREDD project

The lead objective of the ReCaREDD project (Reinforcement of Capacities for REDD+) is to enhance the capacity of institutions in tropical partner countries to report on forest degradation, in a reliable and cost‐efficient manner. This project will use the best available science and knowledge to develop, jointly with partner countries, techniques for forest monitoring and to strengthen national capacities to report on REDD+ challenging activities, such as forest degradation and forest regrowth.

The quantification of forest degradation is of key importance for many tropical countries that have deployed sustainable forest management practices on their territory. Not all kind of forest degradation can be detected by remote sensing methods. Optimal approaches and methodologies for monitoring forest degradation are likely to vary depending on the type and location of the degradation as well as of forest types concerned. The choice of method is also depending on the spatial resolution (typically varying between 1m -30 m for forest degradation monitoring) and the temporal frequency of image acquisition of the specific satellite system. The long-term objective of ReCaREDD is to improve the sustainable management of tropical forest resources in selected developing countries and ultimately to reduce the climate vulnerability of local populations.

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Roadless project

Tropical forests protect us from climate change and are a haven for biodiversity. Most forest loss, degradation and fragmentation occurs in a “risk zone” around transport networks. Although communities need roads to access markets, hospitals and schools, roads also open up the forest to possible damage. In tropical areas, new road building is often followed by secondary roads being created, often unplanned or illegal, which then trigger further degradation and deforestation. The remoteness of some areas makes it especially hard to monitor and manage this change. The RoadlessForest pilot project aims to provide up-to-date data, to help plan infrastructure wisely and spot possible areas where the forest is in danger. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, with funding from the European Parliament, is building a road and forest atlas for tropical regions to support sustainable development. Sustainable development and sustainable forest management is a way of protecting biodiversity, fighting desertification and responding to climate change, whilst ensuring that forest ecosystems deliver goods and services.

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