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GIS regains forest cover

Nairobi, Kenya, 27 July 2007: Geospatial technology is helping African countries to conserve forests and identify areas in need of intervention, said scientists at a meeting organised by the Society for Conservation GIS-Kenya in Nairobi, Kenya, last week (20 July).

Peter Ndunda, GIS specialist, is currently running a mapping program with the non-governmental Green Belt Movement in the Mount Kenya and Aberdares forests. His project has mapped these regions to determine loss in forest cover over time. “Having identified forested and non-forested areas, we have mapped out areas that need urgent intervention. With support from local communities, we have planted trees which we are monitoring using high-resolution images to determine their survival,” he said.

According to Ndunda, the project has resulted in increased forest cover, improved soil quality and better management of water resources. Planting trees in higher ground, from which water flows down to rivers, helps stabilise the local climate and regulate water flows. He added that by rehabilitating the forests, ecosystems have been preserved. And involving local communities in forest management has provided them with an income, along with education in the sustainable use of watersheds. Ndunda says the project will soon be extended to the Cherengany, Mau and Mount Elgon forests in Kenya, as well as to the Congo Basin forest.