Forests in Eastern and Southern Africa are declining annually. Despite institutional reforms in the forestry sector of the different countries in the region to tackle high deforestation rates and weak revenue capture, the domestic laws and regional protocols are not fully adhered to, and enforcement efforts have proved to be inadequate.
The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), promotes the use of geo-information technologies via standardization, harmonization and development of geo-spatial data and information and strengthening the capability and capacity of the member States in the use of geo-spatial information for sustainable development.
Speaking during the official opening of the training on enabling local monitoring of landscape change across Eastern and Southern Africa using timesync tool, Prof. John B.K. Kiema. Director, Technical Services Directorate at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) underlined the importance of the training. He noted that earth observation data plays a critical role in building resilience to climate change as well as reporting on sustainable development goals (SDG’s).
He said forests cover a third of the world's landmass, help to regulate the atmosphere, and offer shelter, sustenance and survival to millions of people, plants and animals. But despite some progress, the planet's woodlands continue to disappear on a dramatic scale. He added that there are new opportunities to use open data in earth observation such as Landsat, Sentinel data and use of google earth engine and the Timesync tool.
Phoebe Oduor the Service Area lead for Land Use, Land Cover and GHG Inventories at RCMRD’s SERVIR –E&SA project said the main role of this training is to equip participants with skills to enable effective landscape monitoring. “In this sense we are able to effectively monitor reforestation, deforestation as well as degradation. This aligns with Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15) whose overarching goal is to increase global forest cover by 2030 and through this be able to stop/ decrease rate of desertification.
Since 1990 the world has lost the equivalent of 1,000 football fields of forests every hour, according to World Bank development indicators. That's 1.3 million square kilometers of forest, an area larger than South Africa, according to the international financial institution.
With the observance of International Day of Forests, conservationists seek to drive home the message that protection of forests is more critical than ever. International Day of Forests is celebrated on March, 21 2018. The day was initiated in the late 1970s by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); whereas the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on 21 December 2012, which declared 21 March as the International Day of Forests. It is held annually to raise awareness of the importance of forests to people.
“Forests continue to dwindle at unprecedented rates in our region calling for new strategies to claw back these losses because if we continue at the rate which we are going, there will be nothing left for our children and their children to enjoy,” said RCMRD/SERVIR-ESA Geospatial Information Technology Lead Ngugi Kimani.
Ngugi is also part of the RCMRD team implementing the Eastern Africa Forest Observatory (OFESA) says the overall objective of OFESA is to strengthen existing institutions and networks in the tropical regions in their capacity to report on their mitigation actions in the forest sector in the context of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries). At the same time, OFESA will also contribute to assessment of adaptation/biodiversity benefits of forest coverage and sustainable forest management, for policy makers to use in their policy and strategy development. Read More http://apps.rcmrd.org/ofesa
RCMRD presents the main results of the Regional Forest Observatory prototype
Prof. Kiema added that with about half of the world’s original forest cover lost or degraded, interest is growing in planting trees to absorb carbon and to help communities better prepare for climate change. Restoring forests has many potential benefits. In our Eastern and Southern Africa region, farming that includes more trees can be more productive and resilient to changes in weather patterns. Growing trees also absorb carbon dioxide and so contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.
On this International Day of Forests the vital role forests play in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security can be discussed internationally.