Earth Observation Support for Assessing the Performance of UK government’s ICF Forest Projects

Aug 18, 2015

Ecometrica, in partnership with The University of Edinburgh, have completed an 8 month project to test a methodology for estimating the area of forest loss avoided as a result of International Climate Fund (ICF) supported activities – The Hectares Indicator. The project was funded by the European Space Agency, with additional support from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The ICF is a combined, co-ordinated Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment from the UK (DFID, DECC and Defra) of £3.84 billion from 2011 to 2016 towards international action on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Approximately 20% of the ICF activity is directed to forests, in support of the UK’s goal of halving deforestation in developing countries by 2020
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One of the challenges for effective evaluation and learning is the availability of robust evidence of outcomes, and the ICF has agreed a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that should provide good quality evidence for the monitoring, evaluation and learning process, and for assessing value for money. The Hectares Indicator is a measure of the avoided loss of forests, and increase in forest area, resulting from ICF programmes. It is an important outcome measure for all forest related ICF activities and will underpin other KPIs on ecosystem services and biodiversity.

The project successfully tested a methodology that applies a four stage risk based approach, using satellite Earth Observation (EO) data to provide much of the evidence on forest cover and forest loss. Three study areas were chosen based on existing ICF programmes. The next step involved categorising and mapping the forests at risk of loss based on expert local knowledge in the three study areas, i.e. the Terai and Churia forests of Nepal, the Brazilian Cerrado biome, and Ghana high forests. A key component of the project was to evaluate the accuracy for use in the ICF Hectares Indicator for the Brazil and Ghana study areas, of the global forest loss data as produced by the Hansen et al (Hansen/UMD/Google/USGS/NASA), also distibuted by Global Forest Watch.

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