The Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland is providing technical assistance for using satellite data to map and monitor forests in the countries of Central Africa through the regional NGO OSFAC – Observatoire Satellital des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale. This is part of a long-term effort to build regional forest monitoring capacity funded by USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE – http://carpe.umd.edu/), with additional support from the Congo Basin Forest Fund and the World Resources Institute.
From May 26 to June 6, 2013, MPS Graduate Student and Graduate Research Assistant, Patrick K Lola Amani, “Pamani”, provided two consecutive technical training workshops in Central Africa on FACET (Forêts d'Afrique Centrale Evaluées par Télédétection), a forest mapping methodology developed by Dr. Matthew Hansen and his team. Patrick led OSFAC’s Remote Sensing Laboratory before joining Dr. Hansen to work on FACET in July 2012. FACET is a data intensive processing stream that fully exploits the Landsat archive to produce seamless cloud free image composites and synoptic maps of forest cover and loss specifically for the Congo Basin.
The first workshop was held in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo (ROC). Four representatives of the ROC Government department in charge of Forest Management and Inventory (CNIAF - Centre National d'Inventaire et d'Aménagement de Ressource Forestière et Faunique), Bikounda S., Matoko D., Diackabana L.T. and Milandou C., attended the session. Ouissika B. and Suspense I. of OSFAC RoC also participated.
In Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, two members of the TerraCongo (the DRC’s national satellite forest cover monitoring system) and SYGIS (Système de Gestion de l'Information Spatiale) teams of the Department of Forest Management and Inventory (DIAF - Direction des Inventaires et Aménagement Forestiers), Manzila E. and Mwamba M. , along with five staff from OSFAC participated in the workshop.
Both workshops took place in the respective OSFAC offices of each country and were the first such training sessions run entirely by Central African analysts. The training sessions resulted in the first maps produced in-region showing forest cover extent and loss for the countries of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because the method is efficient, the national-scale maps were made in 4 days time. "That was fast!” was the observation by most all the trainees when they compared the FACET process to other methodologies that they have used to map forest cover and change.
Besides mosquitos and the hot weather, Pamani had a great time at home, staying with his family for the first time in 8 months. He looks forward to returning to the region to lead more training sessions and workshops, particularly on using satellite data to monitor forests.