FAO in Liberia

FAO enhances the skills of government partners to generate activity data using SEPAL software


Monrovia- The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Liberia Institute of Statistic and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) with financial support from the World Bank Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the Government of Norway and with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have concluded a week long training on the Liberian Forest Cover Change Analysis held at the One UN House in Monrovia.

The training was organized under the project titled: “Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation-REDD+).

The roundtable interactive discussion brought together technicians from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), LISGIS and FDA. The objective is to train government partners to conduct a national deforestation and degradation remote sensing assessment. 

The five-day exercise is undertaken to support the development of an operational Satellite Land Monitoring System (supporting REDD+ monitoring reporting and verification-MRV) and to facilitate the development of activity data for the Forest Reference Emission Level-FREL. Activity data for Liberia has been assessed using a combination of global remote sensing data sets (Global Forest Change dataset, Hansen 2013), national GIS layers (concession and agricultural commodities layers) and expert assessed image interpretation at sample sites.

The exercise covered series of activities relevant to the MRV as well as the Forest Emission Reference Level-FREL. All data analyses associated with both the forest cover change analyses and the MRV activities was taken into consideration using the FAO developed SEPAL-system for earth observation data access, processing and analysis for land monitoring platform. SEPAL is an online, cloud based system-facilitating access to large quantities of earth observation data as well as the tools required for analyzing this data. SEPAL will facilitate the analysis with easy to use interfaces for time series analysis.

Collect Earth or Collect Earth Online will be used to collect training data to classify forest change. In addition, the workshop facilitated discussions about forest degradation which will improve the understanding of the characteristics of forest degradation and how it can be distinguished from deforestation.

Speaking briefly, Isaac Nyaneyon Kannah, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Officer at FDA/REDD+ Implementation Unit disclosed that the training will enable technicians produce activity data for the FREL calculation. “In this exercise we need two types of information, the national forest inventory data and the activity data. Through the FAO SEPAL software and the R program, technicians will acquire broadly knowledge on collecting and producing the activity data”.

Mr. Kannah further explained that the training will produce the forest cover map that will determine the level of land degradation and deforestation.

He noted that the number that will be generated will be used to add to the emission factor that will be collected from the national forest inventory report to get the FREL.

“At the close of this capacity enhancement exercise, participants will be able to produce the activity data using the SEPAL software and the R programme. We will have the knowledge and skills in producing such information without the support of our international partners. It will also enable us to report our FREL to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change-UNFCC” he concluded.

In his introductory remarks, Remi d’Annunzio FAO International Consultant said the SEPAL software is an innovative open-source software to help countries measure, monitor and report on forests and land use, offering unparalleled access to granular satellite data and computing power and paving the way for improved climate change mitigation plans and better informed land-use policies.

He also informed participants that SEPAL provides a comprehensive image processing capabilities and enables the detection of small-scale changes in forests, such as those associated with illegal or unsustainable timber harvesting.

Remi who served as facilitator for other trainings informed that the SEPAL is contributing to the accuracy and transparency of reporting to international programmes and processes, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Sustainable Development Goals and FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessments.