Integrating remote-sensing and ground-based observations for estimation of emissions and removals of greenhouse gases in forests
The purpose of the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) Methods and Guidance Document (MGD) is to provide countries with advice relevant to their development of national forest monitoring, and measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) systems that use remotely sensed and ground-based data. The MGD provides information that can be customised to fit individual country circumstances and cope with both preferences and evolution in technology. MGD advice helps fill a current gap in practical guidance on developing and implementing forest MRV systems, particularly concerning the integration of remotely sensed data with ground-based data to estimate emissions and removals of GHG from the land sector. The MGD is relevant to all countries, but is particularly intended for policy and technical decision makers in developing countries, as well as their partners in international agencies, multilateral and bilateral programmes. The MGD provides practical advice to help meet international reporting requirements by:
- describing requirements of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decisions for estimating emissions and removals from the land sector.
- providing detailed advice on decision making and technical implementation, describing broad principles for the collection and use of data, thus remaining relevant even as technologies and methods evolve.
- illustrating how countries can apply the principles outlined in the document by using existing examples of national greenhouse gas inventories, and other operational systems such as those used for the early detection of deforestation.
The term guidance is used in the MGD where there is a cross-reference to IPCC and advice is applied where new, complementary material is provided by the MGD.
Recognizing the needs of end users the MGD:
- represents the process that countries need to work through to develop a system that meets national policy objectives
- incorporates decision trees and web links to help the user navigate and focus on the material/tools relevant to them
- is provided in both printed and web-based formats.
IPCC’s guidance recognizes the potential role of remote sensing (which can include aircraft borne sensors as well as images from satellites) in delivering GHG inventories, but does not go into detail apart from identifying techniques. The MGD complements the IPCC guidance by providing material that takes account of the accumulated experience on the joint use of remote sensing and ground-based data, and is specific to REDD+ activities. Although IPCC does treat deforestation in the KP context, in general it does not describe methodologies specific to REDD+ activities, which were not specified until after the IPCC 2003 Guidance and 2006 Guidelines were written. The MGD provides advice for specific REDD+ activities. The MGD recognizes the importance, both of MRV requirements and of national circumstances in determining the optimal mix of remote sensing and ground-based observations, and that these may evolve. National circumstances include the:
- existence or otherwise of a forest inventory or other historical statistical data on land use
- data accessibility and availability and meteorological issues e.g. cloud cover which can restrict the use of remote-sensing methods
- availability of technical expertise and institutional capacity to acquire and process data
- community, land-tenure, stakeholder, legal and administrative arrangements associated with forestry and other land uses.