FAO Regional Office for Africa

Capacity development for land use and land use change detection with remote sensing in Zimbabwe with FAO

Following the “Remote Sensing Survey and capacity development National Workshop for Zimbabwe” (9–13 October)

Participants attending the Remote Sensing Survey and capacity development national workshop pose for a photo at the end of the workshop @FAO/KevinMazorodze

13 October 2023, Harare – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized the workshop “Remote Sensing Survey and capacity development national workshop for Zimbabwe” in Harare, from 9 to 13 October 2023 with the assistance of the European Union, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative. Invaluable administrative and operational support has been provided by the FAO country office in Zimbabwe.

As Zimbabwe was one of the selected countries for the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2020 capacity-building efforts, the aim of this workshop was to instruct participants in generating forest area and forest area change statistics with remote sensing. The collaboration between the Forestry Commission in Zimbabwe and FRA (established in 2017) facilitated the implementation of the FRA 2025 Remote Sensing Survey (RSS) to detect land use and land use change (LULUC) in the country for up-to-date statistics.

Twenty-five participants from all around Zimbabwe attended this workshop for training in visual image interpretation and remote sensing data collection on national forest resources and drivers of deforestation. During the workshop, the attendees were enabled to collect data for approximately 2500 RSS samples within their territory. For this data collection, the Collect Earth Online (CEO) platform was used, developed by joint efforts between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), FAO, the US Forest Service and Google. Upon the collection and review of the data by the FRA RSS team, it will then be returned to the country experts to review, update and validate.

"With this sample-based Collect Earth Online survey, we will go a long way in improving our data collection and quality of data, as well as in making timely decisions," said Anderson Muchawona, Forest Specialist at the Forestry Commission in Zimbabwe.

Remote sensing for comprehensive global forest reporting

Since 1948, FAO has been conducting forest resources assessments on the extent, condition, management and use of global forest resources. The high-quality assessments compile comprehensive country reports every five years from officially nominated national correspondents using a standardized methodology. The findings of FRA provide evidence-based support for the decisions and recommendations of civil society, the private sector, governments and international conventions.

The FRA team serves to report on two forest-related indicators of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land. More specifically, FRA facilitates data collection and reporting for indicators 15.1.1 (forest area as a proportion of total land area) and 15.2.1 (progress towards sustainable forest management).

First developed in 1990 to complement the country reporting process, a remote sensing survey was implemented by FRA to assess the status and changes in tree cover and land use with satellite imagery. Since then, other FRA RSS exercises built the capacities of countries to utilize advanced remote sensing tools and satellite imagery to produce independent and thorough analyses of forest area and its changes over time at global, regional and biome levels.