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USAID, USGS develop novel forest monitoring system

US: A partnership between United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Geological Survey (USGS) developed an inexpensive and effective way to monitor the impact of forest-conservation activities. Officials from the two agencies claimed that the system—which analyses decades’ worth of satellite data to measure impact—just may revolutionise forest and conservation monitoring worldwide.

“Before this partnership, only about a third of worldwide forest conservation programmes had monitoring and evaluation systems in place, so we have been unable to concretely track long-term improvements or setbacks,” said USAID/Guinea Mission Director Nancy Estes. “The use of remote sensing technology is revolutionary because it has creatively solved the problem and allows us and our Guinean partners to see with our own eyes the results of our work in preserving Guinea’s forests.”

For 18 years, USAID has pioneered conservation by increasing the involvement of local people in the management of four of Guinea’s forest reserves, which cover more than 350 square miles. This approach decentralises control from the Guinean Forestry Department to local communities, whose welfare depends on ensuring that their environment is managed sustainably.

The new collaboration between USAID and the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in South Dakota is exploring a promising new way to assess the effects of conservation work by analyzing decades of satellite data in areas where USAID projects have been active.

To determine the real impact of USAID’s 18 years of co-management projects in Guinea, the USAID mission teamed up with EROS in 2008 to undertake some sophisticated before-and-after comparisons. Using 40 years’ worth of imagery, including the Landsat series, the USAID-EROS partnership has successfully tracked how forest conditions changed over time, both in the areas that received USAID assistance and in areas that did not.

Source: USAID