Cameroon: Cameroon has joined a Congo Basin initiative that uses satellite imagery to monitor changes in forest cover in an effort to curb deforestation and help Central African countries access carbon finance.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo and Central African Republic (CAR) signed an agreement with the French government and geo-information provider Astrium Services ahead of UN climate talks in South Africa late last year.
Cameroon followed this June, gaining a license to use images from the SPOT satellite earth observation system which could assist in protecting its rich forest reserve.
Pierre Hele, Cameroon’s environment minister, said the collaboration “underscores the government’s commitment to the fight against climate change through forest conservation”.
“The satellite system will complement efforts put in place by the Cameroon government and neighbouring countries in the Congo Basin to fight unwanted forest exploitation and climate change,” said Bruno Gain, France’s ambassador to Cameroon, who signed the agreement on behalf of the French government.
The Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency) is financing the provision of SPOT satellite imagery to Central African countries to support their participation in the UN-backed REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme. This aims to compensate developing countries for protecting their standing forests.
Aude Areste Lamendour of IGN France International, a French geographic information company that is co-managing the Congo Basin project, explained at the Yaounde signing ceremony that the initiative goes beyond the prevention of illegal forest exploitation.
“It also allows governments, public institutions and NGOs in Cameroon to take advantage of these images and of the value-added services associated, so that the data can support them in their projects and help them strengthen their knowledge of land use as well,” he said.
Satellite imagery is essential for establishing up-to-date cartography, baseline maps and accurate measurements to monitor and evaluate REDD programmes and carbon stocks, he added.
The Central Africa initiative, which offers satellite images through a free portal, aims to map the entire Congo Basin, the world’s second largest forest after the Amazon, explained Lamendour.