SERVIR-Himalaya takes satellite imagery technology to the grassroots

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Community members learn to use satellite imagery for monitoring their forest

More than 30 community members from Khayar Khola watershed in Chitwan district, Nepal were trained in the use of satellite imagery for community forest monitoring on 20 March 2015. The training was conducted by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) under the framework of SERVIR-Himalaya, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC), REDD Implementation Centre, and Kathmandu University (KU).

ICIMOD’s Associate GIS Specialist Govinda Joshi (centre) explains how unmanned aerial vehicles can be used to monitor forest change.

There are 17 Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) in Khayar Khola watershed. CFUGs are formed and guided by the Department of Forest of the Nepal government. These user groups have enabled communities across the country to successfully manage their forests. Communities carry out plot level forest stock measurement to assess essential positive and negative changes in the forests. The results of the assessment are then generalized to the entire community forest.

Satellite images can help ensure the accuracy of these results as they provide a view of the entire community forest area at different time periods. Satellite imagery not only confirms the ground findings, it can also be used to compare the conditions of different community forests.  

Speaking at the opening session of the training, Birendra Bajracharaya, ICIMOD’s Regional Programme Manager for Mountain Environment Regional Information System (MENRIS), explained that satellite images can complement ground data for monitoring forests, watershed, agriculture and glaciers. “So far we have depended on field measurements, but now we can combine these with satellite images to study the trend of changes in forests,” he said. Resham Bahadur Dangi, Joint Secretary at the MoFSC, thanked ICIMOD for the training and said, “Building community members’ capacity to use satellite imagery will contribute in sustainable forest management.”

During the day-long session, participants learned how to read and compare satellite images, as well as about 3D visualization. The workshop familiarized them with the use of satellite images and provided them an opportunity to link satellite images with ground photographs, visual change assessment and quantification of forest in terms of biomass changes. 

Towards the end of the training, Laxmi Karki, Treasurer of Pragati Community Forest User Group, said, “The training helped us understand how remote sensing works. By identifying different land and water features, it can make our work on the ground easy.”

“Satellite images can provide a lot of useful information. The communities can use such information in managing their forests in a sustainable way,” said Bed Bahadur Adhikari, Vice Chairperson of the Federation of Community Forest User Groups. 

The training concluded with a demonstration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for rapid changes developed under SERVIR-Himalaya Small Scale Applications programme by the Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering, School of Engineering, Kathmandu University.  (http://catalogue.servirglobal.net/Product?product_id=120).