GMES Service Element Forest Monitoring

One of the activities executed at the research and development stage of GMES (previous name of Copernicus programme) was action of the international consortium, which has been developing tasks of GMES Service Element Forest Monitoring (GSE FM), and was accomplished in 2009. The aim of the consortium was to propose to central level of national administration a portfolio of services based on satellite imageries, which would support implementation of forest ecosystems protection policies. GEOSYSTEMS Polska started the cooperation within a  GSE FM in 2004. The first stage was oriented on strategy analyses and information needs in the European forestry sector, among the others in relation to global policy of environmental protection and implementation of UNFCCC requirements.

Information on carbon content in tree stand as well as its changes in relation to the base year 1990 (1988 for Poland) together with information on the emission are basic components of the national reports delivered annually by Polish Ministry of the Environment in compliance with Kyoto Protocol (KP). Reliable and objective information on forest area changes is significant for the emission limits, which in case of its incomplete exploitation is the subject of trade to other countries (emission trade). The 17th World Climate Conference (COP17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes (UNFCCC), which took place in Durban (RPA) on 9th of December 2011, decided to prolong binding force of Kyoto Protocol for a further 5 years ( above 2012) and suggested the plan of actions until 2020.

The innovativeness of the service relies on application of advanced research methods of the environment, which are based on satellite imageries, and their integration with the data acquired from ground inventory. It was crucial to assign one procedure to the forest under the State Forests National Forest Holding administration and to the forests under other ownerships as it will ensure the integrity of estimation of the forest area for the whole country. It is worth to highlight that the project characterised by the pilot project features was developed for the area of whole country and it enables to assess the value of this methodology in operational stage.

All maps elaborated during the project were published on the Polish GSE FM Geoportal

The analysis of estimation error for tree parameters enables for optimistic look on using integrated information derived from the satellite observation systems and from the ground inventory. Especially high accuracy of estimation of stem volume for 2006 by use of SILP data is worth to underline.

Applied method will not replace the previously used information sources about the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide by forest ecosystems in the annual cycle of reporting required by the Kyoto Protocol. However in three or five years cycle may become a complement and calibration of the currently used models. Moreover, the maps which were generated in the workflow present value in itself because of display of the dynamics in the environmental changes.

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